Yahoo! MARCH 29, 2006 - by Josh Grossberg


Paul Simon has a Surprise for his fans.

The legendary folk-rocker has announced his first album of new material in nearly six years, Surprise, will hit stores May 9 from Warner Bros. Records.

The collection, Simon's first solo foray since 2000's You're The One, finds the sixty-four-year-old singer-songwriter teaming up with avant-garde composer and electronic mastermind Brian Eno, who has previously collaborated with the likes of Roxy Music, Talking Heads, Robert Fripp, David Bowie and U2.

Working with Brian Eno opens the door to a world of sonic possibilities; plus, he's just a great guy to hang with in the studio, or for that matter in life. I had a really good time, Simon says in a statement.

We're both 'sounds' people, Simon elaborated to the Associated Press. We're both about soundscapes. I thought he would bring an element that I hadn't ever encountered before, electronics, into a guitar record. Theoretically, it seemed to be a good idea. And when we actually did it, you could tell right away it was a good idea.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's no stranger to experimentation. His 1970s albums featured jazz artists, and he memorably teamed with major South African musicians for 1986's groundbreaking Graceland, which nabbed him Grammy Awards for Album and Record of the Year. Its follow-up, The Rhythm Of The Saints, was largely recorded in Brazil with regional artists.

Simon wrote the songs both before and after his hugely successful 2003 reunion tour with Art Garfunkel. The Slip, Slidin' Away crooner says he had been a long-time admirer of Eno, who's generally credited with popularising ambient music with such LPs as Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) and Music For Airports. Simon and Eno met at a London dinner party, and Simon tells AP that they decided to "throw it together, see what the mix of sounds were, see what we produced."

The eleven-track album was recorded in London, New York and Nashville.

Aside from subtle electronica elements, Surprise will feature Simon's first commentary song since his 1973's America Tune. The track, titled Wartime Prayers, contains allusions to the war on terror and the ongoing conflict in Iraq

All that is changed now / Gone like a memory from the day before fires / people hungry for the voice of God / hear lunatics and liars, he sings. Wartime prayers in every language spoken / for every family scattered and broken.

Other cuts include How Can You Live In The Northeast?, Everything About It Is A Love Song, Outrageous, Sure Don't Feel Like Love, Beautiful, I Don't Believe, Another Galaxy, Once Upon A Time There Was An Ocean, That's Me and the Oscar-nominated song Father And Daughter, which originally appeared on The Wild Thornberrys soundtrack. Guest musicians include jazz great Herbie Hancock and guitarist Bill Frisell among others.

Simon will introduce the new tunes when he headlines the closing day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on May 7. No word yet on whether a full-blown tour is in the works, but there are rumours about a possible London club show. The eleven-time Grammy winner is also slotted as the musical guest on the May 13 Saturday Night Live.