"Born To Sing: No Plan B" is Van Morrison's thirty fifth studio album in forty five years and his first new album in four years. It is also a return to the celebrated Blue Note jazz label for which he recorded the critically acclaimed "What's Wrong With This Picture?" The good news is that his latest album deserves equal acclaim. Although the usual musical elements of celtic soul, blues, rock and jazz are evident it is the latter that dominates the set.
Recorded in Belfast with a six piece band the album was produced by Van and all ten songs were written by him. The lyrics are linked to a common theme - materialism and greed and the devastating effect that they have on society. On the lovely, lilting "Going Down To Monte Carlo", with Van also playing piano and alto sax, he observes:
"Sartre said that hell is other people, I believe that most of them are".
But, the grumpiness aside, this is a beautifully realised album with superb musicianship which is perfectly displayed in the compelling "Close Enough For Jazz".
Van's production makes the sound of Hammond organ, electric guitar, tenor sax, trumpet, piano, trombone and drums warm and blissful as he swings through some of his best songs in years. Yes, he is famously curmudgeonly and a serial complainer but when he can write and perform music as inspired as this he can surely be forgiven.