Thursday, November 21, 2019

Van Morrison: Three Chords and the Truth Album Review | Pitchfork

Van Morrison - Three Chords And The Truth (Vinyl)Image result for van morrison three chords and the truth cover

If there's a Sir George Ivan Morrison album I don't own it's unintentional.  My fellow early boomer born in 1945 has put out his best album in twenty years.  As Jason Woodbury notes Van is in "incredible" voice, and his songs - all but one new - have the mix of mysticism, delight, and crabbiness we his fans have come to love.  Who else in the rock pantheon would string together Dark Night of the Soul, Early Days (of rock n' roll), and the grouchy Fame Will Eat the Soul. 

Buy the CD.  Don't turn to Spotify or download it.  You'll appreciate having the lyrics, and knowing twho plays each instrument on every song.  Van's Sax on Early Days, Jay Berliner on acoutic guitar, and Stuart McIlroy particularly caught my attention.  - gwc

Van Morrison: Three Chords and the Truth Album Review | Pitchfork

reviewed by Jason P. Woodbury

Forty-one albums into his storied career, Van Morrison remains one of rock’s most enduring studies in contrast, never changing and forever restless. Three Chords and The Truth is his sixth record in the last four years, the latest dispatch of a particularly productive period, and the first to feature all-new original songs since 2012’s Born to Sing: No Plan B (minus one co-write with lyricist Don Black). Though he sticks closely to the conservative R&B, blues, and jazz modes that have defined his ’00s discography, the LP’s 14 songs showcase his determination to wring profundity out of even the most common language. Songwriter Harlan Howard coined the phrase “Three chords and the truth” to describe the necessary ingredients for country and western music, but this isn’t a country record. Van’s talking about his desire to take simple rhymes and traditional song structures and imbue them with Caledonia soul heaviness.

As it has since his raging beginnings with Them, it’s Morrison’s voice that affords him such latitude. At 74, he sounds incredible, his voice deepened and richer with age, growling, cooing, and occasionally barking about familiar but resonant concerns. As always, he’s grouchy— sick of the powerful getting away with it all (the Brexit commentary “Nobody in Charge”), annoyed by notoriety and the complications of stardom (“Fame Will Eat the Soul,” which features a rousing call and response assist by Righteous Brother Bill Medley), and uncertain if goodness makes any difference in a compromised world (“Does Love Conquer All”).

But he’s equally nostalgic, riffing on the joy of sound on the title track and earnestly recalling the freedom and purity of youth (“Early Days,” “In Search of Grace”). There’s a warmth here that recalls his ’90s highwater marks, Hymns to the Silence and The Healing Game, and connects even farther back in time to 1971’s Tupelo Honey, which balanced the charms of domesticity with R&B raves. Credit the superb backing band for the record’s subtle but palpable drive. With Astral Weeks guitarist Jay Berliner in the mix, they support Morrison sympathetically. “It’s called ‘the flow,’” Morrison said in a recent interview, detailing his optimal conditions for making music. “I don’t know the mechanics of how that works. I just know when I’m in it.”