Van Morrison: Keep it Simple (2008)

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Van Morrison: Keep it Simple (2008)

Post  LeeRain on Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:49 pm

Van Morrison: Keep it Simple (2008)
A track by track review of Van's latest effort, 2008's Keep it Simple. I of course recommend it.

How can a Poor Boy - The album starts on a Bluesy note. The song feels a little unnatural if you have not followed the evolution of Van. The song, while listen-able is ultimately to plain and predictable to reach the standard Van has set. 5\10

School of Hard Knocks - Smooth and comfortable. Not spectacular by a step up with more musical showmanship and toe tap appeal. Still a bit to structured but well executed and a few very strong bits of lyrical phrasing and background harmony propel this song into my regular rotation. 7.5\10

That's Entrainment - A definite throwback with Van showing off incredible vocal preservation. It's hard to distinguish his current sound from that of 30+ years ago. The music is very solid again but fails to reach the level of it's lyrical compliment. Another strong number. 7.5\10

Don't go to Night Clubs Anymore - The Blues are a fitting backdrop to an aging Van but I have always felt they stifled him, and this is no exception. It's a well written song and is at worst pleasant but it leaves you feeling dry. Overall I usually skip it. 5.5\10

Lover Come Back - A haunting multi-dimensional display of just what makes Van my all-time favorite. The Celtic influence including the procal harum like organ, the distinctive phrasing and raw pain filled lyrics are a familiar sidebar to Morrison's work. Maybe a little too much back up vocals here. The bridge would have better with just Van. 8\10

Keep it Simple - Van never disappoints with a title track. This song moves this album for me, to a whole other level. "Straight reality is always cold" A lot of the song is Van putting the meaning into the words with his delivery while challenging the music to keep up. Would be a fitting opening and closing song if the album were a film. 7.5\10

End of the Land - Mellow and patient, missing something it seems. Strong hook and soothing nature carry the song overall. Will not disappoint and fits nicely in the midst of the albums close. 7\10

Song of Home - A look back to his previous work "Pay the Devil" with what feels like a song that was overlooked, but is billed as an evolution out of experience. A feel good and well structured effort with strong imagery. Reminiscence of foghorns recall the vintage Van of the early seventies. The ability to meld the new with the old without meaning to draw from either is what makes Van still one of the best after nearly 50 years of performance. 7\10

No Thing - Van's albums used to be an experience in themselves. Now they are a reflection of his experiences in and out of music. The songs are still running in his head except now he can change the station. He has no boundaries from song to song let alone album to album. No Thing is a quality track, but won't stand out to most. 6\10

Soul - Jazz and Blues with typical Morrison R&B roots. Classic Van, almost every album has a song like it in that it stands out from the first note and clearly brings the album towards it's crescendo. 7.5\10

Behind the Ritual - What I wouldn't give to see Van follow this pattern for an entire album one more time. The stream of conscious feel the music and react Van is in full effect behind the album's strongest musical composition. Van can say one word 100 times and almost never say the same thing twice. He has an amazing ability to tap into where the music leads it's listener. The song fits the theme of the album and provides a moving finish that stands out as the premier performance of the album. 9\10

Overall: You can't go wrong here. The best Van in quite a while for me. If you like good music you like this album that simple. It's not an all-time great, it's not his very best. It's simply a great musician demonstrating his greatness one more time. Rating: 7.5\10

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