Recorded live in the studio with a core six-piece band, Morrison’s 34th album — and his return to Blue Note — perhaps unsurprisingly has a jazzier atmosphere than his most recent studio effort, 2008′s Keep It Simple. Heck, Morrison even plays sax.
All welcome news. But after getting off to a fast start with the finger-snapping rumble of its opening track “Open Your Heart (To Your Heart),” and a pretty good first half (highlighted by the eight-minute organ-driven sizzle of “Goin’ Down to Monte Carlo”), Born to Sing begins to wear down into cliche. There’s even a too-obvious reference to “Besides You,” from his legendary Astral Weeks album, to be found in “Retreat and View.”
Maybe a better subtitle would have been No Side B.
Van Morrison previously released What’s Wrong With This Picture? on Blue Note in 2003, garnering a Grammy nomination. Previous to that he had a long-time association with Mercury, and has since recorded for a variety of labels, including Polydor, Virgin and — on Morrison’s most recent release, the 2009 concert recording Astral Weeks: Live at the Hollywood Bowl — his own Listen to the Lion imprint.