Keep It Simple

At this point in his career, Van Morrison is less interested in surprises than in further exploring his long-standing obsessions: surviving the shocks of this life and rising gracefully toward the next one. Keep It Simple finds him looking back on his sixty-two years, filled with longing — for home, for deliverance from the world's demands, for spiritual transcendence. He boasts of surviving the "School of HardKnocks," wryly chronicles a newfound sobriety in the aging roust about's lament "Don't Go to Nightclubs Anymore" and sails into the mystic on the album closer, "Behind the Ritual." Typically, the band settles into a comfortable groove while Morrison lifts off into the trancelike realm he calls "entrainment." Meanwhile, the arrangements are elegantly spare: subtle works of guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion, occasional backup singers and, at the center of it all, Morrison's incomparable voice, as expressive as ever. "Only a fool could think that things would ever be simple again," he sings on the title track. But on this simple, soulful record, that kind of foolishness feels like wisdom.

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