Morrison's Still Got It
Van Morrison didn't become a rock 'n' soul icon by making things more complicated than necessary. Maybe he drifted pleasantly off into the mystic or loaded up on strings and horns on occasion, but the bedrock of his sound, that impassioned and judiciously used voice, kept the listener tethered to him. But on his latest album, "Keep it Simple," the Irish legend does just that with spacious arrangements and direct lyrics. Whether it's the single articulated electric guitar line that threads through the soul-flecked "School of Hard Knocks" or the hitching harmonica of the back-porch blues of "How Can a Poor Boy," there is nary a bit of clutter on this low-key charmer. Morrison sounds good singing about feeling bad on "No Thing." He pines for a lost love on "Lover Come Back." And he succinctly explains the reasons he "Don't Go to Nightclubs Anymore" (too much smoke and booze). Simplest of all is his breakdown of "Soul," a place that has nothing to do with skin color and everything to do with one's essence. Essentially, Morrison's still got it.