If you look at the great female singer/songwriters of the latter part of the 20th century then it would be remiss to omit Carly Simon. She might not have the profile that has been afforded to others and her greatest hit may have in some ways become a millstone round her neck but in the annals of comfortable listening she does fair pretty well.
As if to protest her continued existence Carly returns with ‘Never Been Gone’ a greatest hits of sorts but with each song reappraised in a new acoustically driven form. Think of it as Carly Unplugged so to speak. Its a little bit hit and miss in terms of selections and you find yourself wondering why she felt the need to meddle with her back catalogue.
There are it has to be said some very worthy moments however, ‘Boys In The Trees’ is served well in its new format and there is a delicacy to the new arrangement which brings Simon’s vocal to the fore and really lets you lean into the story of the song. ‘Let The River Run’ meanwhile recaptures that 70’s sunny California vibe that Simon always seemed to evoke in many of her songs.
Elsewhere things go a little awry with her new version ‘You’re So Vain’ being a prime example, whereas the original had a relaxed devil may care approach to a scathing lyric, this new version seems more than a little contrived and the altered arrangements (the clouds in the coffee moment for example) do make you wince slightly.
As a vocalist age has given Carly’s vocal is a little huskier than I remember but it has to be said that this makes some of the songs a little more personal and intimate (she also seems a little more comfortable in the lower register than she used to be).
As a collection, it is I suspect a well intentioned venture but you cant help but wonder if Carly might have been better served with a re release of her greatest hits and maybe saving the recording sessions for a more rounded output of material.
If you’re a fan then you will I suspect be well served here but for the casual observer of her canon they might be better served looking to one of her greatest hits collections.