Van Morrison "Born To Sing: No Plan B"

The title chosen by Van Morrison for his 35th solo studio album would seem to be evident, but by selecting it Morrison makes a point. Music and singing is still the very relevant passion in the man’s life and not a hobby reflecting the glories of a past career. Morrison is doing the thing that is part of his DNA, the thing he was born to do.

Certainly over the years Morrison has released lackluster albums but the voice has never wavered. Even when the material was less than scintillating his voice made the listening experience interesting. Born To Sing: No Plan B is something else – it is inspired. Morrison, who has always been reticent in sharing details of his personal life or philosophy, opens up on this release. The title track is as close to an autobiography as we’ve been given as he tallies the cost of the artist’s passion. “Man can be king/Seems to have everything/But it comes with a sting/When you were born to sing.” This thread carries through in the track “Open the Door (To Your Heart),” singing “Money doesn’t make you fulfilled/Money just pays the bills.”

Morrison is both erudite and a tad anti-social in “Goin’ Down To Monte Carlo.” “Satre said that hell is other people/I believe most of them are/Well their pettiness amazes me/even after I’ve gone this far.” Brutal but honest. “End of the Rainbow” even finds him touching on political situations, referring to carpetbaggers, capitalism, and materialism. “If In Money We Trust” questions what role God plays in society and worries over the eventual outcome of a life ruled by the pursuit of money. Again, “Educating Archie” addresses the role of media in the loss of individual choice. “Retreat and View” offers insight into how Morrison balances his personal world. “From my retreat and view/Make my own break through/And I might see things new.”

“Close Enough For Jazz” is a love letter to the music closest to Morrison’s heart. In the earliest years of his career he leaned more toward the blues elements that border jazz, which he revisits on the slow churning blues of "Pagan Heart." But it is jazz that he has long since indulged. Born To Sing: No Plan B was recorded live in studio with a six-piece jazz band. Morrison plays piano, guitar and alto sax and is accompanied by excellent trumpet, trombone, bass, organ, tenor sax, and drums and percussion.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Host)