Born to Sing: No Plan B

[Blue Note]

Like any free spirit, Van Morrison follows his muse wherever it takes him. He may tilt toward R&B, country or traditional Irish music, but he never sounds like anyone else. That’s led to a certain predictability—and a certain coziness. Born to Sing is as familiar as Van Morrison albums come. It’s his first set of all-original material since 2008, but these tunes could have turned up at any point in the last four decades. Not that that’s a bad thing. New Morrison albums are annual state-of-the-poet addresses—opportunities to catch up with an old, at times cantankerous, friend. Opener “Open the Door (to Your Heart)” and the bluesy title track require no adjustment of expectations, and even when Morrison goes topical, decrying the evils of capitalism, he’s never pushy. “Be glad with what you have, even if it’s half empty in the glass,” he sings on “Close Enough for Jazz,” and it’s hard to imagine anyone who’s followed Van this far will lament his lack of a plan B. –Jeff Tamarkin

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