Mastered from the Original Master Tapes: SACD Reveals Elegant Vocal Details and Disarming Simplicity of Pop/Rock Arrangements Like Never Before
Carly Simon’s number-one smash “You’re So Vain” lingers as one of the most clever, famous, and secretive songs ever recorded. The subject of mass speculation ever since its release, soon after which it occupied the top spot on multiple Billboard charts for several weeks, the double-edged anthem has for decades kept a captive public guessing at the identity of its smug subject. To this day, Simon has offered many hints but never revealed its inspiration. Ironically, the question surrounding the protagonist’s identity is perhaps the only mystery on the otherwise sexually open and autobiographically daring No Secrets, Simon’s breakthrough album and an emblem of the 70s singer-songwriter canon.
Produced by Richard Perry – famous for his work with the Beatles, David Bowie, and Elton John – No Secrets touts what many believe is the finest sound on any Simon record. Simple, elegant, and disarming, Perry’s treatments make the songs seemingly float and Simon’s voice take on a more confident, assertive tenor that on this SACD emerges with definitive imaging, balanced tonality, and palpable depth. String arrangements and backing vocals come through with similar realism, adding up to a soulful experience on par with other classics of the era – including Carole King’s Tapestry and Joni Mitchell’s Blue.
Enhanced by an all-star cast – Simon’s then-husband James Taylor, Paul and Linda McCartney, Mick Jagger, Lowell George, Bobby Keys, Jim Keltner, Nicky Hopkins, and Bonnie Bramlett are among the iconic musicians lending a hand – No Secrets advances Simon’s themes of personal introspectiveness, no-holds-barred reflectiveness, and feminist-inspired boldness. While acknowledging her own regrets (“You’re So Vain”) and loss (“The Carter Family”), Simon also champions the highs (“The Right Thing To Do”) and unrequited pains (“His Friends Are More Than Fond of Robin”) of love in a straightforward, sincere manner indicative of her maturity as both an artist and singer.
Throughout, Simon invests her all in the songs, handling beautiful ballads, sassy rock/folk numbers, and blues fare with equal parts calm, composure, and candor. She makes every moment of No Secrets worth savoring. The New York native distinguishes “When You Close Your Eyes” with deep-rooted spirituality, recalls childhood joys via charming sentimentality on “It Was So Easy,” and instills her cover of Taylor’s “Night Owl” with requisite fierceness. Thanks to Simon’s self-assured performances and savvy lyrics, combined with Perry’s expert instrumental arrangements, No Secrets retains an edginess and relevance immune to the ravages of time.