Three and a half stars really. Magic Time opens with the mellow Stranded that sets the tone for the album. The next one, Celtic New Year is a meandering ballad with jazzy touches. The tempo changes for the rhythmic and lilting Keep Mediocrity At Bay, a powerful message song.
Evening Train is a mild uptempo rock number with a jerky beat and engaging saxophone flourishes, whilst both This Love Of Mine and Gypsy In My Soul are lounge jazzy excursions, as is his rendition of the standard Lonely And Blue. Just Like Greta is a soulful ballad that expresses the yearning for solitude and The Lion This Time is a sad slow song with a melancholy undertone.
The title track, a relaxed ballad, is a celebration of happy memories, simple but moving. There is a mood of resignation in the face of betrayal in the bluesy piece They Sold Me Out. The album concludes with Carry On Regardless, a tuneful and rhythmic attack on the music business and the media.
Measured against Van Morrison's own brilliance, I suppose this album deserves three stars. But compared to a lot of other music, it merits four. Overall, I would say it lacks real passion. But then again, the lyrics and the melodies are good. The songs just don't grab you like his best work does. Still, Magic Time is essential for fans.