Van Morrison has returned to the spotlight with Born to Sing: No Plan B, the legend’s 35th studio album.
When you’re in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with six Grammy Awards, honorary doctorates from universities and a French Ordres Des Artes Et Des Lettres under your belt you have nothing to prove do anyone, and that works in Morrison’s favor on No Plan B.
He breaks no new ground here, choosing to stay in the narrow lanes of jazz and blues as he has done over the last decade or more.
“Who’s got this one?” the bandleader asks before someone leans in for a sexy sax solo. This hint of improvisation, so essential to jazz and blues, makes No Plan B the most charming album Van has produced in decades.
Yes, the guy who charges hundreds for a ticket to his Astral Weeks anniversary tour has the temerity to sing “money doesn’t make you fulfilled/money’s just to pay the bills” on the opening track, “Open the Door (to Your Heart),” but the bluesy shuffle underneath is so well played that you forgive this wealthy man for lecturing the 99 percenters in his fan base about capitalism.
He does it again on the ragtime blues number “Educating Archie,” where he sings, “You’re a slave to the capitalist system/which is ruled by the global elite/what happened to the individual/whatever happened to working class white.”
Morrison should stick to safer topics, like his love of jazz and the magic he creates for people between the sheets when his music plays on date night.
To be sure this romantic poet is Ireland’s answer to Barry White, and “Goin’ Down to Monte Carlo” at 8:12 is a delicious and sexy jam.
“Close Enough for Jazz” is a track that started off as an instrumental that he reportedly added words to at the last minute; the extended chatter between an electric guitar and sax conjures up a swingin’ supper club vibe before Van’s husky voice cautions you that “there’s no use feeling sad, no use feeling bad.”
With Born to Sing: No Plan B, Morrison delivers a winner that will make everyone feel glad. He’s tidied up his website on the heels of this release, adding an extensive YouTube channel that features spirited live clips from his catalog and provides hours of free entertainment for fans.
Check him out as he blows a mean horn on “Moondance” during a recording at Kenwood House at 2008 and you know why they call him Van the Man.