Van Morrison: 'Born to Sing: No Plan B' 

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Van Morrison's best release in ages is bound to invite an unfair comparison. No, it's not as good as Dylan's Tempest, but it's surprisingly agile and lively. Morrison's arrival on Blue Note is well-timed, as the arrangements and compositions are done in a skillful jazz idiom. But this is no predictable late-career turn to easy standards — these are all-new songs, sung with power and passion and filled with acid observations about the state of the world. Morrison certainly doesn't need to take chances at this point in his career; the fact that he does is a pleasure and a surprise.

★★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)

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