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VAN MORRISON Keep it Simple CD Review
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Reviewed by Niall Browne


Van Morrison is a musical icon. With his unique voice, spiritual lyrics and musical influences that cover a broad spectrum (everything from Country and Celtic to Jazz and Skiffle) you never really know what to expect from a Van Morrison album. With over forty years in the business “The Belfast Cowboy” has left a legion of fans and classic songs trailing in his wake.


In recent years Morrison has been on the country trail with his last album - 2005’s Pay the Devil featuring a variety of country and western cover versions. While the album was a worthy entry into Morrison’s back catalogue it lacked his powerful lyrics and musical flair that make a Van Morrison album an event.


With the newly released Keep it Simple Morrison has delivered an outstanding album, his best in over a decade. The album feels like vintage Morrison, filled with stirring lyrics and catchy tunes. Keep It Simple sounds like Van Morrison has just lifted a great weight from his shoulders. Crisp clear lyrics add a youthful freshness to the album and they help make “Van the Man” sound 25-years younger.


Being Irish and having lived in Belfast for several years I have a strong affinity with Morrison’s music and the lyrical imagery that permeates through his songs. His lyrics often share motifs, characters, places and ideals and Keep It Simple harkens back to a simpler time. It would appear that Morrison has finally made peace with the world around him, and now he wants us to make peace in our lives. The lyrics of Soul offer the listener advice on how to have inner clam and treat those around you- “Soul can be your vision or something that is hidden, It’s not something that you gotta hide.”


In Song of Home Morrison details his longing to return home, something that is quite plausible considering the amount of touring the he does- “I can see the harbour lights, hear the foghorns in the night, All up and down the lough, calling.”


The closing track Behind the Ritual is pure Van- rambling lyrics, repetition and vivid imagery- the song looks back to his teenage days in Belfast. The six minute-plus song is an instant Van classic and I’m sure that it will become a staple song in Morrison concerts in the coming years.


Overall Keep It Simple is a thrilling album, one of the freshest and most enjoyable Morrison albums in years. The music, lyrics and vocals have a freshness and lightness to them that give the listener a relaxed look into Morrison’s often gruff personality. A highly recommended purchase for fans of “Van the Man” and a good starting point for recent converts who want a sample of Morrison’s music.


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