Art Garfunkel “The Singer” (Columbia/Legacy)
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” was one of Paul Simon's greatest songwriting achievements, but only his nonwriting vocal partner — with that angelic tenor that could soar from intimate baritone to highflying falsetto with the ease of a graceful bird — could have put it across with the emotional power that was needed to make it a classic.
Although it became the title song of the last new studio album released by Simon & Garfunkel, Art Garfunkel sang it alone, and it is arguably the best vocal performance of his career, so it's fitting that this hymn of comfort to a troubled heart was chosen as the opening track of “The Singer,” a 34-song, 2-CD collection of Garfunkel's best work with Simon and as an underappreciated solo artist.
The songs, curated by the artist himself, date from Simon & Garfunkel's 1964 folk-pop album debut, “Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.” (“The Sound of Silence”), through Garfunkel's 2007 solo collection of Great American Songbook covers, “Some Enchanted Evening” (“Some Enchanted Evening,” “I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face”).
Although Simon was the writer of the pair, Garfunkel did receive composing credit for writing the poem “Canticle” for “Scarborough Fair/Canticle,” and was responsible for most of the vocal arrangements they recorded together, which here include such melancholy mesmerizers as “April Come She Will,” “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright” and a stunning live version of “For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her.”
Standouts from his solo albums include his dreamy, wistful cover of the Beach Boys' “Disney Girls,” his close-harmony duet with James Taylor on the Everly Brothers' “Crying in the Rain,” his heartfelt reading of Jimmy Webb's “All I Know” (accompanied by the Oklahoman on piano), and the previously unreleased smoky love ballad “Lena,” featuring a couple of elegantly heated electric guitar solo passages from Dean Parks.
This is one for turning the lights down low and dancing slow, while Art the angel sings.
— Gene Triplett