Van Morrison proves an old dog can learn new tricks in latest release

Van Morrison sings at Notodden Blues Festival in 2013 in Norway. (Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons).

Van Morrison sings at Notodden Blues Festival in 2013 in Norway. (Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons).

The 73-year-old singer-songwriter Van Morrison has just released his 40th studio album “The Prophet Speaks.” Forty studio albums in a music career is impressive in itself, but the fact that Morrison continues to produce fresh and creative sounds is remarkable. The 14-track album also marks the fourth new Van Morrison project dropped in the last 15 months. A blistering pace, especially for an artist who is past their prime. The R&B superstar seems to have reached a point in his life where he is particularly inspired to create music, which is great news for long time fans.

Morrison’s music career took off in the 1960s as the lead singer of the popular Northern Irish R&B band “Them.” The group’s most notable hit was the classic song “Gloria.” A few years later, his career as a solo artist took off with the smash hit “Brown Eyed Girl.” Morrison then used this extremely successful track to be the lead single on his debut album “Blowin’ Your Mind.”

Fifty-one years and 39 albums later, Van Morrison is still churning out albums like it’s the 1960s. His latest project “The Prophet Speaks” includes exceptional renditions of classic songs by John Lee Hooker, Sam Cooke, Solomon Burke and various other jazz and R&B artists. The album also includes six excellent new Van Morrison compositions. The outstanding quality of these six new songs demonstrates Van’s passion for making music. While Morrison does a great job covering the songs that inspired him as a young man, it’s the new music that stands out the most on “The Prophet Speaks.”

The past year has seen a huge reemergence of the R&B superstar Van Morrison. Despite being 73 years of age, the singer continues to produce quality music for his fans.

Accompanying Morrison on this album is the extremely talented Joey DeFrancesco, who worked as a co-artist on Van’s last album “You’re Driving Me Crazy.” DeFrancesco’s band includes Dan Wilson on the guitar, Michael Ode on the drums and Troy Roberts on tenor saxophone.

Of the songs covered, Morrison’s rendition of “Dimples” by John Lee Hooker stands out. The aging artist does a fantastic job making this song his own. By remaking the music that inspired him as a young artist, Morrison pays tribute to artists who influenced his musical journey. He also demonstrates his deep roots in the vocal jazz and R&B genres.

Out of the new material on “The Prophet Speaks,” the songs “Ain’t Gonna Moan No More” and “Got To Go Where the Love Is” particularly stand out. These tracks are reminiscent of vintage Van Morrison and showcase the artist’s ability to write classic hits. The blues melody in “Ain’t Gonna Moan No More” finds Morrison reflecting on a life filled with such a wide variety of music.

The past year has seen a huge reemergence of the R&B superstar Van Morrison. Despite being 73 years of age, the singer continues to produce quality music for his fans. “The Prophet Speaks” not only demonstrates Morrison’s love for writing new music but also pays tribute to the artists who inspired him through eight wonderful renditions. Even 50 years after his debut album, Van Morrison continues to show why he’s one of the most influential jazz and R&B artists of his time.

Rating: 3.5/5


Matt Souvigney is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.souvigney@uconn.edu.