BELFAST COWBOY MIXES INFLUENTIAL JAZZ STANDARDS WITH ORIGINAL NUMBERS
Just a mere three month after the release of Roll With The Punches comes Van’s 38th album. In contrast to the previous outing, which saw him revisit his favourite rhythm and blues tracks, this collection sees him tackle some of the last decade’s greatest jazz songs. He covers tunes by heavyweights Chet Baker, Frank Sinatra, The Righteous Brothers, Tony Bennett and Nat King
Cole, alongside six of his own compositions.
As well as more obscure songs, Morrison has embraced some of the best known tracks of the last century, such as ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’, ‘I Get A Kick Out of You’ and ‘I Left My Heart In San Francisco’. Possessing one of the richest, most expressive voices of our time, he effortlessly injects these familiar titles with an immediate vitality. It is also evident that Mr Morrison seems to be (gasp) enjoying this process; there is a freedom and lightness in his voice that makes these familiar numbers extra engaging.
Indeed, the whimsical and curious inclusion of a jaunty instrumental reworking of ‘Skye Boat Song’ suggests he could be just kicking up his heels and having a laugh – if he is, fair dues.
In addition to the legendary vocalist, a jazz set-up of brass, stand-up bass, piano, drums and guitar provides a faultless musical backing, blending gentle swing and playful jazz wig outs.
A particular highlight amongst the original tracks is blistering opener ‘Broken Record’, which is all walking basslines, sparkling ivories and toe-tapping percussion. Elsewhere, Van morphs into a lovable lounge lizard for ‘Take It Easy Baby’, while ‘Start All Over Again’ is an upbeat jive gem.
A minor addition to an extensive canon, but a resolutely enjoyable one.
OUT NOW // ROISIN DWYER