It can be argued that Van Morrison is making the same album for over 40 years. Some are a little more jazzy, others a little more Celtic and others more bluesy. In the end there are circa 12 songs that meander and drift calmly to the end of the album. The difference is basically that I like some better than others. Several albums are brilliant, others so-so and some assist perfectly putting me to sleep, should I need that that is, so I just switch them off. The title of his latest album just about sums it up, I guess. Van the Man was born to sing, compose and record records. Next to performing his music on stage. Born to sing again.
I know 'Gloria' for about as long as I can remember. "G L O R I A", I can't even remember hearing it for the first time. Sometime on the radio as golden oldie (then only a few years old and perhaps not even that), at a friend's house? Who knows. Van Morrison as a solo artist I discovered with the album 'Beautiful vision', which set my standard for his albums. As his albums started to look too much of the same I stopped buying them from 'Avalon sunset' in 1989 onwards, with a few exceptions since. And then someone wrote that Born to sing ... was certainly worthwhile listening to and he was correct. Not that there is so much happening on the album that is overly exiting, no. Morrison is doing his thing from a bluesy vantage point and a pleasant swing.
From a players point of view the album is jazz. Everyone gets his solo at turns, resulting in relaxing sax, trombone, muted trumpet and clarinet solos. There's even a bass solo on the record! Not your every day run of the mill any more. It gives the album its pace and mood swings. The tempo over all is the slow mid-tempo in which the songs find their way to my ear. At times so quiet that if I don't pay attention it's like a song is finished.
Most songs sound inspired to me. Perhaps that is the way that I recognise a good Van Morrison album from a lesser one. At this moment I put up Born to sing ... up with 'Beautiful vision', 'Inarticulate speech of the heart' and 'No method, no guru, no teacher'. Yes, reader, all 80s albums. I'm not into his 70s period so much. Too jazzy or something.
His voice is as good as ever. There always seems to be a sneer in there aimed at someone, us all, the world in general? It's distinct and immediately recognisable. Something like an old man, with just enough breath to stay alive, let alone song and still sound powerful. An odd combination for a voice. Still it belongs to one of the most distinguished singers who started his career in the first half of the 60s and is still going strong. It may only be one and a half year and Van Morrison is celebrating his 50 year recording career. He started of the celebration with a very nice and sweet album. Perhaps not the moniker that Van Morrison'd actually like to hear, grumpy as he's reputed to be, but that is just what Born to sing .. is, nice and sweet, with soft spots in all the right places.
You can order Born to sing: No plan B here