Released: December 1972
Chart Peak: #1
Weeks Charted: 71
Certified Gold: 12/8/72
Carly Simon's third album comes handsomely dressed by super-producer Richard Perry and boasts many illustrious helpers. In the degree of its intelligence and forthrightness it is the equal of its predecessors. Regardless of the quality of her songs -- they range from fair to excellent -- everything Carly does is likeable for her radiant vocal personality. She has the whitest of white voices and uses it well, singing full throat with her faultless enunciation. Her almost literal note-for-note phrasing of songs is uniquely ingenuous.
James Taylor's "Night Owl" is the album's second-best cut. Among the guests sitting in on this hard bluesy rocker are Nicky Hopkins, Klaus Voorman and Bobby Keys, with background vocals by Bonnie Bramlett, Doris Troy and the McCartneys. Of the album's eight other cuts, five take up the subject of time -- lovers' time versus childhood time -- playing variations on Carly's favorite theme. The implicit assumption behind these songs is the difficulty of being happy, especially when in love, without over-analyzing one's happiness so as to dissipate its intensity. The realization that emotion and rationalization are often irreconcilable is most painfully expressed in Carly's ballad, "(We Have) No Secrets":
Just as direct and personal is Carly's childhood fantasy of her father, "Embrace Me, You Child": "At night in bed I heard God whisper lullabies/While Daddy next door whistled whiskey tunes/And sometimes when I wanted they would harmonize/There was nothing that those two couldn't do." Two songs with lyrics by Jacob Brackman -- "The Carter Family" and "It Was So Easy" -- also look back nostalgically toward youthful innocence. With the exception of "You're So Vain," Carly's lyrics are stronger than her tunes. But what finally makes No Secrets so refreshing is her singing, which conveys the finest spirit of patrician generosity.
- Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone, 1/4/73.
Carly Simon has had a great deal of success in a short time; in two years she has had three hit albums and two hit singles, packed 'em into music fairs and concert halls, given the pedestals of Joan Baez and Judy Collins a hearty nudge, and married pop hero James Taylor. Her new album is, as might be expected, excellent. Besides "You're So Vain," the hit single, there is a scorching good version of Taylor's "Night Owl" and a batch of new Simon originals, of which "The Carter Family" is a K.O.
Ms. Simon has a virtual full Nelson on being the chanteuse of those in their early twenties (or perpetually in their early twenties) who find their identity, family affairs, and sexual liaisons are sometimes less than fully satisfying. This is not subject matter that will cause the Rockies to crumble or Gibraltar to tumble, but Ms. Simon is the current master (dare I say mistress?) of it. She wears her crown well.
- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 3/73.
This super package, recorded in London and produced by Richard Perry, is Carly Simon's first album in quite some time. It is filled with Simon originals and sprinkled with musician credits like Klaus Voorman, James Taylor, Jimmy Ryan and more. "His Friends Are More Than Fond of Robin," "Embrace Me You Child," "When You Close Your Eyes" (written with Billy Merritt) are all standout cuts. Current single "You're So Vain" is a highlight.
- Billboard, 1972.
If a horse could sing in monotone, the horse would sound like Carly Simon, only a horse wouldn't rhyme "yacht," "apricot," and "gavotte." Is that some kind of joke? Why did Mick Jagger want her? Why does James Taylor want her? Come to think of it, why does she want either of them? B-
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
No Secrets is forthright, passionate and wonderfully outspoken, particularly on the great put-down classic "You're So Vain." * * * *
- Patrick McCarty, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
It's no secret that this sexy, soulful record represents prolific Carly at her peak. Great then, classic now, her unique, evocative voice handles some fine material like "The Right Thing to Do," her duet with then-partner James Taylor, and her deeply personal signature "You're So Vain" -- and whether they think that tune is about them or not, perhaps today's pop divas could learn something from Simon's carefully crafted songs. * * * *
- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.
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