Friday, May 02, 2008

Van Morrison - Keep It Simple

Grammy award-winning Northern Irish vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Van Morrison has returned with Keep It Simple, his follow-up to 2006's Pay The Devil. What can a critically-lauded performer hope to achieve with his new 11-track self-produced disc of his own compositions?

The answer to that question is simply perfection. The songs here are stripped down yet vibrant and emotional. The disc opens with the bluesy (with hints of gospel) jam, "How Can A Poor Boy." The song hardly prepares you for the other tracks but allows one to see his versatility as a songsmith. That can be best seen in the form of "School Of Hard Knocks" which boasts an unforced rhythm and delivery reminiscent of a Schoolhouse Rocks episode... our favorite song on the disc. A close second is "Don't Go To Nightclubs Anymore" which is hard to shake out of your head. Beautiful instrumental separation and layering only enhance his lyricism here. "Behind The Ritual" is a great character development piece. It's actually hard to find a song out of place here that should have been omitted... leaving me to believe there are more gems waiting to be released.

The album title pretty much sums it up. Keep it simple! Van Morrison has done that by creating uncomplicated pieces that feel like a part of the songbook of life. I can only hope that radio gives the album plenty of air-time to awaken a deeper music appreciation in the public. Not simple but simply beautiful.

4.5 of 5

No comments: