Pay The Devil

"How polished is Van Morrison's brand of musical mysticism? On last year's Magic Time, he sang a list of smutty British films and made it sound like cosmic wisdom. After forty years of astral moods, Morrison seems to have realized that his talent for elevating the everyday into the profound would serve him well in country music. So when he sings ""My Bucket's Got a Hole in It,"" he finds the same fertile territory that Hank Williams Sr. did, balancing between a quotidian complaint and Sisyphean dread. Pay the Devil, Morrison's squintillionth album, contains twelve covers of classic country songs, from ""Things Have Gone to Pieces"" to ""Your Cheatin' Heart,"" and three new compositions that work well right beside them. The album is pleasant but uninspiring, perhaps because Morrison's whiskey voice matches up so easily with these bourbon-soaked songs. While Morrison does nothing discreditable with this material, he also finds nothing new in it."

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