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Van Morrison - Versatile (Album Review)

Tuesday, 05 December 2017 Written by Jacob Brookman

Bang! And another!

The bell has barely rung on the arrival of Van Morrison’s September release, ‘Roll With The Punches’, and we have another collection of standards and original material in our hands. This time, the he delves into swing instead of blues, and the result is an album of thoughtful, terse musicianship made distinct by Van’s unmistakable personality.

Highlights include the languorous, swaggering Let’s Get Lost,  originally penned by Jimmy McHugh & Frank Loesser and popularised by the brilliant Chet Baker.

It’s exactly what you think a Van Morrison version of Let’s Get Lost would sound like, with a superb sax break and gorgeous, varied arrangement. There is absolutely no reinventing the wheel going on here, just expertise and love deployed with God-given (Van would assure us), timeless talent.

Elsewhere, we have a fine instrumental arrangement of the Skye Boat Song alongside a fresh-sounding version of Unchained Melody. The latter has a toned-down presentation, with added sevenths and low-slung horns that adorn and supplement the canine burr of the singer. The quality of the recording is a testament both to Morrison and the song itself, originally penned by Alex North and Hy Zaret.

The album is not quite a knockout, but it does demonstrate the performer's continued creative focus when compared with some of his contemporaries. Actually, his 38th album looks better when placed next to another artist’s 38th record: Bob Dylan’s ‘Triplicate’, which was released in March and also comprised primarily of standards.

Both albums have an oaky richness in the weather-worn delivery of their fantastical auteurs, but ‘Versatile’ is a little crisper and more decisive. As an individual record, it is not terribly interesting, but it's still the work of a master band-leader who shows no signs of slowing down.

Van Morrison Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue December 05 2017 - BELFAST Europa Hotel

Click here to compare & buy Van Morrison Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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