For the first time, I believe, Simon reveals himself [on "Paul Simon"] as more than a writer of unfinished lyrics and ordinary melodies. Both commodities are occasionally in evidence here, but they're overwhelmed by the impression that here is a real musician, a real writer, who is flowering at last, and beginning to justify all the album sales and the praise previously heaped on his balding pate.
The care which Simon has lavished on the reggae track ["Mother And Child Reunion"] is typical of the whole album….
[There's] no doubt that it's his album all the way, suffused with his own engaging personality. No one who can play rolling guitar fills like those on "Peace" or enunciates the word "destituted" like he does in "Duncan" could be anything less than a terrific musician, and it's moments like these which crumbled my prejudices and eventually allowed the entire album to steal over me like a glass of Slivovitz—it tastes innocuous at first, and the warmth only hits you when it gets deep down inside.
To all the people who've been waiting for this one with eager anticipation: don't worry, it's all you ever wanted. To those who think Paul Simon is a writer of unfinished lyrics and ordinary melodies: taste and try.
Richard Williams, "Simon's Labour of Love," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), January 8, 1972, p. 18.