"Yes, Simple Songs is an album of songs sung by Jim O'Rourke all the way through! It has been ten years since Jim's voice rang out from a new album. Ah, when James Michael was just a wee lad, he sang all the time, with a lovely little lilt to his voice, like all the children do. But the songs he sang gave his parents no end of consternation: 'Great Decei-verrr! Cigarettes, ice cream, figurines... of the Vir-gin Mar-eeee!' Aye, if only we'd-a been there -- little Jimmy's career would have started much sooner. Child labor laws be damned! It's hard to believe it has been nearly fourteen years since Insignificance. When that album hit in late 2001, we heard once or twice how it was too bad that it wasn't Eureka Part 2. Sissies! Then in 2009, when The Visitor returned Jim to the orchestrated instrumental feel of Bad Timing, people wondered when we'd have another album like Insignificance! Grrrr.... now, has the world caught up with Jim? Maybe -- but only because he let us. What Simple Songs sounds like.... At this point, the range of sounds and songs that have turned Jim's head are numerous enough to have crushed together into something that is unmistakably his -- the vast, glossy and glittering O'Rourkian (yes, like Kervorkian) wall of sound. The music's got OCD quality, played so immaculately by so many instruments, and most of them by the creator's hand. This time's really the widest screen yet for Jim's popular song-style, truly breathtaking! As for the songs themselves, one may have to resist the urge to skim the lyrics to try and guess who the target of each ditty might be -- but this ain't 'You're So Vain,' okay kids? And you're definitely NOT Warren Beatty. Simple Songs was worked over, from source material to finished mix, for five years or more now. Jim's writing is kinda rooted in the approach of Insignificance -- frosted pop tarts that leave a darkly bitter aftertaste. So bilious not even Jim can listen to it all the way through! Fine, it's not for him to listen to anymore -- WE can't stop from listening. It's like a beautiful car wreck we can't look away from or stop feeling AMAZING about. Super fun stuff."
"The gnomic US polymath’s first album of songs since 2001’s Insignificance was also his first Drag City release to not reference the work of film maker Nicolas Roeg in its title. Otherwise it was every bit as affecting and ingenious as might be expected, absorbing elements from early Genesis, Bill Fay and Van Dyke Parks into O’Rourke’s quixotic and (in spite of the title) complex songwriting style. Matt Krefting said: “The album’s so-called simple songs might be ambiguous enough to leave you wondering what they’re about, even as you’re thinking that they were written just for you.” TheWire Best Albums of 2015