Van Morrison – Born to Sing: No Plan B (2012)

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.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • Dianne McPartland

    Great stuff, I’m going out to buy the new CD
    Love the sound