A rare combination of angelic delicacy and extraordinary power, Art Garfunkel‘s voice has lent reverie and wonder to songs for nearly 50 years. This two-CD set, lovingly curated by Garfunkel himself, collects 34 examples of his best work, beginning with Simon and Garfunkel classics such as “The Sound of Silence” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and moving through solo standouts like his gossamer version of the Beach Boys‘ “Disney Girls.” It’s a revelation from start to finish.
One of The Singer‘s particular pleasures is its nonchronological sequence; when a live rendition of “For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her” surprisingly emerges between the elegant New York reminiscence of “Perfect Moment” and Garfunkel’s duet with James Taylor on the Everly Brothers‘ “Crying in the Rain,” it hits with all its original power. Two previously unreleased songs, “Lena” and “Long Way Home,” stand up well in this impressive company. Finally, The Singer is a masterpiece of subtlety. Garfunkel is obviously capable of bravura moments, as on Jimmy Webb’s “Skywriter,” but he’s a master of restraint. This set’s impact, then, results from the numberless graceful choices Garfunkel makes as a performer, allowing his voice to serve these evocative songs while letting them serve as vehicles for his peerless voice.