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Keep It Simple

96 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 1, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In keeping with the album title, Keep It Simple does not boast the big horns or string arrangements of some of Morrison's previous work. What it does feature are 11 gorgeous songs rich with emotion, depth and beauty. 'I felt I had something to say with these songs.' says Van Morrison. He explains his approach with the track 'Entrainment' by saying 'when you connect with the music - Entrainment is really what I'm getting at in the music. It's kind of when you're in the present moment. You're here with no past or future.' 11 tracks.

Those familiar with Van Morrison’s ever mercurial muse could hardly have been surprised when he turned up on the artistically centered, avant-country label Lost Highway to pay tribute to a era-spanning slate of country icons on the Nashville imprint's ‘06 collection, Pay the Devil. But while the ensuing years were dominated by several rich anthologies of Morrison’s work, he’s returned here to masterfully show his love of country was no passing fancy. As the title suggests, Morrison’s self-produced approach to the genre is both musically and emotionally elemental, a no frills approach that fits him like a well-worn pair of Tony Llamas. Indeed, even as he’s addressing matters of musical style and substance in an unusually introspective way on "That’s Entertainment" and "Soul," the veteran’s singing here is so natural and deceptively effortless as to disguise how forcefully Morrison has immersed himself in the country mold – or, more to the point, remade it lovingly in his own image, also marking the first time in several years he’s penned all the songs on one of his albums. Whether offering a little tutelage about the vagaries of fate on "School of Hard Knocks," taking W.C. Handy’s "St. Louis Blues" as the starting point for the slow-burning, Hammond B3-seeped country blues lament "Don’t Go to Nightclubs Anymore," or preaching the backroads Zen gospel of the title track and Banjo-seasoned elegy "Song of Home," Morrison’s warm, world-weary voice connects with themes that are as familiar as sunshine – and every bit as fundamentally complicated. --Jerry McCulley

1. How Can A Poor Boy
2. School Of Hard Knocks
3. That's Entrainment
4. Don't Go To Nightclubs Anymore
5. Lover Come Back
6. Keep It Simple
7. End Of The Land
8. Song Of Home
9. No Thing
10. Soul
11. Behind The Ritual

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 1, 2008)
  • Original Release Date: April 1, 2008
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Lost Highway / Exile / Polydor
  • ASIN: B0012QGP00
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,077 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Micki Zackary on April 1, 2008
Format: Audio CD
The ever-enduring crooner returns with a collection of stripped-back, simple songs diverging how it feels to be reaching the twilight of life. Yet Van Morrison keeps all the controlled energy of someone who still has something to pass on to the world.
"Keep It Simple" is a mainly bluesy affair. He's returned to the usual mixture of autobiographical fare and the kind of mix of jazz, folk, blues, country and soul that may be chock-full of lyrical cliche but is always lifted by a voice that really hasn't deteriorated much in the last twenty years. Let's face it: the blues wouldn't be the blues without it's lyrical template. It's the way it's sung that matters, and Van is still peerless in this respect.
Husky, slurred, simple yet honest, the album is one enduring constant is in its title: the acceptance that less is more and that with restraint true quality always prevails.
After five decades of prolific and heart-felt melodies this is amazingly Van Morrison's 33rd studio album but is shows as much dedication as many new artist's debut.
His first recording of original material since 2005 it's also the first album penned solely by Van Morrison's own hand since "Back On Top" in 1999.
You have to try very to hard to find Van Morrison doing much wrong and even when he's not breaking new ground there's still generally enough going on to keep his music worth a listen.
On this one, he does more than just tow the line and even offers up one or two gems in the making - "Lover Come Back" and "End Of The Land" prove in particular why he's not yet disappeared into retirement.
There's a certain grace to Van's stripped-back band and as always he evokes images of sorrow and anguish but with such beauty and warmth that you can't help but smile when you hear him.
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155 of 180 people found the following review helpful By Steve Ford on April 2, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Keep It Simple - like most latter day Van Morrison - is neither as brilliant as you might hope, nor as disappointing as you might fear.

The problem, for me, is the decline of Morrison's songwriting. While he was never a lyricist in the class of Dylan or Joni Mitchell, he could once conjure marvelous images and had a poet's ear. He also had the vocal chops - blending jazz, blues and soul - to create a unique style of music. Where immobile steel rims crack /And the ditch in the back roads stop /Could you find me? /Would you kiss-a my eyes? /To lay me down /In silence easy /To be born again (Astral Weeks) Those words read well off the page, but as performed by Van Morrison, they were magic. As a singer, he had no peer, and the combination of his words and music lifted Morrison into the highest echelon - alongside Dylan and Mitchell. His best songs were autobiographical but universal, beautifully crafted, tinged with mystery and ambiguity.

While he has had many ups and downs along the way, the deterioration of Morrison's lyrics might be traced to the otherwise triumphant Hymns to the Silence (1991). Since then, there have been a raft of songs about the woes of being Van Morrison in the music business - Professional Jealousy, Why Must I Always Explain?, Big Time Operators, Songwriter, They Sold Me Out, and now, School of Hard Knocks. Then there are the songs about the woes of simply being Van Morrison - Some Peace of Mind, Too Long In Exile, Melancholia, Underlying Depression. Now there's Don't Go the Nightclubs Anymore.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mary E. Canini on May 24, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
With his latest work, "Keep it Simple", Van is once again the man! I purchased his "Down the Road" CD several years ago and found it to be good, but somewhat uninspired, and all the songs start to sound the same. After resigning myself to the fact that his music would probably only be mediocre at this stage of his life I was VERY pleasantly surprised to find Van going back to his soulful roots with this new album. It has a retro yet fresh feeling to it with the incorporation of the female backing vocals and the organ. The songs are really moving like his early works were in the 70's. I also enjoy the lyrics in these songs as he sees life from the perspective of a man his age. I give him a lot of credit to put out a piece of work like this at this point in his career.... when the creative juices are usually dried up! "Keep It Simple" is a work of art kept simple. I would totally recommend buying this if you're a Van fan!
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Harding VINE VOICE on April 11, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If anyone has any doubts as to whether Van Morrison retains a substantial fan base, just a glance at the large number of reviews written for Keep It Simple in the two weeks since its release should dispel them. Read the reviews and you will see that the fan base is passionate as well. Now some folks like to live in the musical past and have a particular album in mind by which they gauge all others. That's kind of unfair to the artist. You don't want all Van Morrison albums to sound like the one that is your favorite, do you? I don't. While I have my favorite Van Morrison albums, I want to hear him play something new and possibly great everytime he makes a record.
It's natural of course to make comparisons, but I try to hear an album rise or fall on its own merits. And though Keep It Simple will probably not be seen as one of Morrison's best, it has quite a lot going for it. For one, it is mellow and is one of the most soulful records he's made in a long time. My favorites are How Can A Poor Boy?, Don't Go To Nightclubs Anymore, and Song of Home. There is nothing unlistenable except the blah, blah, blah passage in the final cut that almost ruins it. Some say that Van is having a little fun there, but its at our expense. Given the subject of the song, maybe the most charitable interpretation would be that he is expressing what he thinks about the chatter of the jabbering drunks he's leaving in his past.
Those who buy Keep It Simple will get nearly fifty minutes of music and a small booklet containing lyrics and all the info about who plays what on which song. Most people who have followed Van Morrison's career for years will like this album just fine. I like it as least as well as his last album and will certainly listen again from time to time.
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Topic From this Discussion
"Keep It Simple" tour
Seen him in Nashville 3/13/08--definately the most soul stirring we have had from the Man in the last 10 years!! Can't wait to get my hands on this CD!!
Mar 17, 2008 by Amazon Customer |  See all 4 posts
why is there 2 different release dates?
UK March 17, US April 1.
Feb 19, 2008 by M. B. Walker |  See all 3 posts
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