You’re Driving Me Crazy
Van Morrison is sure making up for some recent lost time. He took four years off there – though no one probably noticed. And when he returned – in 2016 – it was with his strongest collection in 20+ years. That was no fluke either, Roll With The Punches was very decent, if not quite as interesting as Keep Me Singing. And then just a few months after Punches he dropped Versatile at the very end of 2017. It was a similar format – same formula – reinterpreting some of his own songs, doing a few jazz and pop standards. Also very good. Maybe you’re just starting to think that he was repeating himself a little too often, but good enough. Far better than his 90s/00s albums – for the most part.
Just a few months have passed and here he is again – though this time it’s an album co-credited with the great Hammond B3 organist Joey DeFrancesco. This is important because as Morrison’s prolific period has him sticking with the same formula it does at least line him up with a new band; a terrific bad. DeFrancesco, a prodigy – best suited forever as a sideman though, perhaps given his choice of instrument – is backed by Dan Wilson’s tasty guitar licks, drummer Michael Ode and tenor saxophonist Troy Roberts. This group really swings. And finds new ways into the old songs.
So though Van is still fiddling about with his song Close Enough For Jazz – a bit of filler he’s clearly super pleased with – here it ‘pop’s because of the band.
He’s in fine voice – still! Forever? – and even a little run through the bland-wedding staple, Have I Told You Lately? (here as a duet with his daughter Shana) is thoroughly acceptable.
But it’s about the driving groove of Ode’s ride cymbal, Roberts’ sax and DeFrancesco’s organ as much as anything. As noticed, straight away, on All Saints Day. And then again on a lovely ride through The Things I Used To Do, the slinky ballad Travelin’ Light and the blues crawl of Goldfish Bowl.
The playing is worth your time alone. And Van’s best vocal spots here are consistent with his efforts across the last few albums.
It’s too long – like most Van Morrison albums. And you’ve heard most of it before, in some version or other, but this one has some fire to it. So it’s welcome. A winning combo. It’d be good to hear a kick-ass live album from this combo. And some more studio albums, including – please – more new songs from Sir Van.
You can support Off The Tracks via PressPatron