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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 22, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Van Morrison teams up for duet album

"Duets: Reworking the Catalogue"

Van Morrison

Van Morrison is back with his new album, “Duets: Reworking the Catalogue,” his first album since “Born to Sing: no Plan B” in 2012. Although to many, converting existing works to duets is a route only taken by washed-up artists with nothing to offer, Morrison defies the odds with features from artists like jazz musician George Benson, blues artist Taj Mahal and a few surprise appearances from modern artists like Michael Buble.

Opting for some of his lesser-known works, Morrison skips over hits like “Moondance” and “Brown-eyed Girl,” giving the listener a sampling of over five decades of sounds that transcend genres, ranging from Celtic to gospel to rock. The album is true to his diverse style with classics like a revamped “These are the Days,” with a hint of nostalgia in each note featuring the stylings of Natalie Cole. Even those who aren’t die-hard fans of Morrison can find something they like on this album. The accompanying artists range from various jazz artists such as Clare Teal and Gregory Porter to the bluesy flavor of his daughter Shana Morrison. P.J. Proby, a famed rock artist, can also be heard on “Whatever Happened to P.J. Proby,” a comically ironic track.

The first single on the album, “Some Peace of Mind” featuring the late Bobby Womack, showcases Morrison’s strong vocals. In comparison to the 1991 version that appeared on “Hymns to the Silence,” this version has more funk and soul true to Bobby Womack’s signature style. The shorter, more upbeat track is sure to get listeners up and moving, adding another dimension to the generally jazzier tunes.

“Duets: Reworking the Catalogue” is a seamless combination of new and old that doesn’t disappoint. With a strong mix of genres and an even stronger selection of artists, this album is certainly worth a listen.