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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A warm, authentic, restrained bluesy affair., May 4 2008
This review is from: Keep It Simple (Audio CD)
The ever-enduring crooner returns with a collection of stripped-back, simple songs diverging how it feels to be reaching the twilight of life. Yet Van Morrison keeps all the controlled energy of someone who still has something to pass on to the world.
"Keep It Simple" is a mainly bluesy affair. He's returned to the usual mixture of autobiographical fare and the kind of mix of jazz, folk, blues, country and soul that may be chock-full of lyrical cliche but is always lifted by a voice that really hasn't deteriorated much in the last twenty years. Let's face it: the blues wouldn't be the blues without it's lyrical template. It's the way it's sung that matters, and Van is still peerless in this respect.
Husky, slurred, simple yet honest, the album is one enduring constant is in its title: the acceptance that less is more and that with restraint true quality always prevails.
After five decades of prolific and heart-felt melodies this is amazingly Van Morrison's 33rd studio album but is shows as much dedication as many new artist's debut.
His first recording of original material since 2005 it's also the first album penned solely by Van Morrison's own hand since "Back On Top" in 1999.
You have to try very to hard to find Van Morrison doing much wrong and even when he's not breaking new ground there's still generally enough going on to keep his music worth a listen.
On this one, he does more than just tow the line and even offers up one or two gems in the making - "Lover Come Back" and "End Of The Land" prove in particular why he's not yet disappeared into retirement.
There's a certain grace to Van's stripped-back band and as always he evokes images of sorrow and anguish but with such beauty and warmth that you can't help but smile when you hear him.
It maybe that he has already reached his peak, but what "Keep It Simple" proves is that with the right combination of sensitivity and commitment to his art Van Morrison can still stay ahead the rest of the field and, what's more important, can do it with dignity.
The CD is a better Van Morrison album than anyone had a right to expect - not least on its closing song. Fanning out from a rimshot-riding mandolin phrase, the killer track "Behind the Ritual" returns to a theme that has informed his best songs from "Into the Mystic" and on.
Drinking wine and dancing like a dervish, Van finds "the spiritual behind the ritual".
The supporting cast acquit themselves admirably as well. Of special note is the steel guitar of Cindy Cashdollar (of Asleep At The Wheel). The only downside is that the backing vocals are a trifle over-egged at times.
But on the whole this is a lovely welcome back to a man who's been increasingly offhand in his output of late.
It may look simple, but only a master like Van could pull this off.
Another career high from a great original in the 40th anniversary year of his classic "Astral Weeks".
Simple, but totally brilliant.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Van Morrison at His Best Again!, April 27 2008
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Shepherdess Extraordinaire (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Keep It Simple (Audio CD)
I hated Pay the Devil and am so glad this new one is more like Van Morrison. This is Van Morrison at his best! I loved every song on this CD. The majority of songs are blues with great lyrics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Van.... Keeping it Simple (and formulaic), Feb. 6 2009
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This review is from: Keep It Simple (Audio CD)
Keep It SimpleAs a longtime Van Morrison fan I'm happy to have Van's new album as part of my collection. He has always been able to lift me out of any funk I've been in, and this album is no different because his soulful blues are so spiritual, and nearly sacred. His How Can a Poor Boy, Don't Go To Nightclubs Anymore (reminiscent of Don't Get Around Much Anymore), and Soul, are very good, as all the cuts are which is about about 45 minutes worth of pure entertainment. The only critical aspect ( except for Van losing his voice on Keep It Simple - you can almost hear him clear his throat, and his Blah Blah Blah refrain on Soul) is that the album sounds so very much like his previous albums, especially Enlightenment. One can hardly blame him for sticking with a style that has brought him great fame, yet other artists (like Dylan, Cohen) try to change things up for each album produced. Van stays the course, and this makes him somewhat archaic as one can get away from buying this one and stay with the old because there's really nothing different here, except the lyrics, good as they are, matching the great instrumentalist and producer's genius, and that may be enough to get it into your collection, too.
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Keep It Simple
Keep It Simple by Van Morrison (Audio CD - 2008)
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