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Van Morrison
Magic Time
Geffen Records

It just feels so much more like summer with the soft, smooth Irish tenor of Van Morrison floating gently out of the speakers, whether the tunes are from the classic Moondance record, or from this year's brand new Magic Time. Often, it is a hit and miss with Van's albums these days, every once in a while we get one that is not all that wonderful to listen to over and over and over. Magic Time follows in the footsteps of classics like Tupelo Honey and the aforementioned Moondance. Every song is an exercise in musical perfection, conveying its mood and drawing the listener into its folds of sound almost unconsciously. Much of Magic Time is perfect summertime music, light and airy, but so substantial that it can't be mistaken for useless pop.

From the opening strains of "Stranded", the album is packed with that classic Van Morrison sound… that's really the only way to describe it. "Celtic New Year" could have been a lead track off of one of Van's early 70's releases. It has the same easy-going style, and bright guitar arpeggios, gently underscored by lush strings and crisp drumming. One hundred percent pure genius. Van proves that he still has the energy and ability to play the bop-blues on "Evening Train", which recalls the days of Them, only adding in brilliant horns. Glenn Miller would be proud of the legacy he left to be incorporated into songs like "This Love Of Mine", a laid back jazz track filled to the brim with swing and jive. "Gypsy In My Soul" is a sensuous track, built on bossa nova rhythms, and with distinctly Django Reinhardt-esque melodic changes. The playful lyrics of "The Lion This Time" belie the somber mood of the music that they accompany, and hint at some deeper meaning. "Magic Time" is an inspirational song, filled with lyrics that will lift the soul into a beautiful and happy place: "Don't lose the wonder in your eyes/ I can see it right now / when you smile/ Let me go back, for a while/ Let me go back, for a while/ To that magic time/ You can call it nostalgia, I don't mind/ Standing on that windswept hillside/ Listenin' to the church bells chime/ Listen to the church bells chime/ In that magic time."

Balanced flawlessly between classic Van Morrison folk-rock, jazz, gospel, and many styles of blues, Magic Time is pure gold from start to finish. Van once again proves not only his musical virtuosity, but also his lyrical prowess, and Magic Time firmly re-establishes his place as the world's preeminent Irish bard.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. Stranded
2. Celtic New Year
3. Keep Mediocrity At Bay
4. Evening Train
5. This Love Of Mine
6. I'm Confessin'
7. Just Like Greta
8. Gypsy In My Soul
9. Lonely And Blue
10. The Lion This Time
11. Magic Time
12. They Sold Me Out
13. Carry On Regardless

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