Van Morrison. Photo: Richard Wade
The Belfast Lion crowns his prolific sprint of the last two years with The Prophet Speaks, a collection of six of his own songs and timeless blues classics: Sam Cooke, John Lee Hooker, Solomon Burke … A pained and revitalizing roar.
The grumpy old man has 73 sticks but maintains the frenetic rhythm of other unrepentant totems (Bob Dylan, Neil Young …) who do not stop expanding their discographies, pulverizing the top of the odometer with their tours and increasing an already enormous legend . Van Morrison live a moment of creative effervescence. Since the end of 2016 to date he has released five albums. With Keep Me Singing He has already warned that retirement was not among his plans. A short time later came his compilation of covers blues Roll with the Punches, the masterful and jazzy Versatile Y You’re Driving Me Crazy, review of some of its great hits. He recorded him flanked by the virtuoso organist Joey DeFrancesco, whose black-legged Hammond returns to accompany him in The Prophet Speaks, last milestone of this prolific sprint, which goes on sale today under the Caroline label.
It will be the fortieth studio album that he delivers to his parish. In total, 14 themes, six of his own harvest and the rest of a host of timeless classics: John Lee Hooker (Dimples), Sam Cooke (Laughin’ and Clownin’), Solomon Burke (Gotta Get You Off My Mind)… It has been important for me to re-record new music, as well as to play some of the blues material that has inspired me from the beginning. Writing songs and making music is what I do, and working with great musicians makes it so much more enjoyable, ”says Morrison. The instrumentalists he alludes to are from DeFrancesco’s band: guitarist Dan Wilson, drummer Michael Ode, and tenor sax Troy Roberts.
It has been very important to record new music and play some of the blues that has always inspired me “
Many wonder what drives Van the Man to lock himself so assiduously in the studio, where, by the way, he shuns digital devices. It seems the reason lies in his recent divorce from Michelle Rocca, his partner since 1990. There are two interpretations in such a circumstance. The first is that you need to make money for the burdensome financial consequences of the separation. Such theory is credited with his appearance, here in Spain, on stages beyond his fondness for restrained capacity: the Wizink Center, the Primavera Sound …
But perhaps it is a simple and human need to purge the sentimental trauma through its oldest companion: music. The single you used as a promotional preview, Got to Go Where the Love Is, reveals that cathartic intention. Positive attitude and danzón spirit in the face of adversity. A song that is postulated to be incorporated into their canon of songs, with metals raising even the dead. Love, its fatigue and hopes, star in this installment of the Northern Irish roar, which becomes mystical towards the end. In a more relaxed tempo, his anthological voice (?? No white man sings like him ??, the critic Greil Marcus said) Spirit will Provide (confident message comparable to our God will provide) and finishes off the collection with The Prophet Speaks, where he wields his harmonica to accentuate the sacred atmosphere of the piece. In short, blues of law, painful and illuminating at the same time.