Those familiar with Van Morrisons 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 Morrisons work, hes returned here to masterfully show his love of country was no passing fancy. As the title suggests, Morrisons 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 hes addressing matters of musical style and substance in an unusually introspective way on "Thats Entertainment" and "Soul," the veterans 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 hes 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. Handys "St. Louis Blues" as the starting point for the slow-burning, Hammond B3-seeped country blues lament "Dont Go to Nightclubs Anymore," or preaching the backroads Zen gospel of the title track and Banjo-seasoned elegy "Song of Home," Morrisons warm, world-weary voice connects with themes that are as familiar as sunshine and every bit as fundamentally complicated. --Jerry McCulley
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.