Review - Back on Top

Artist: Van Morrison

If you'd never heard Van Morrison before but had a propensity to fall for shuffling rock, jazzy blues, and bittersweet sentiments and vocals, "Back on Top" is sure to capture your musical heart. But the lyrics on the title track state the challenge for this umpteenth recording of Morrison's: "Always strivin', always climbing way beyond my will/ Same old sensation, isolation at the top of the bill/ Always seeing, like I'm moving but I'm really going slow/ What do you do when you get to the top and there's nowhere to go."

Morrison responds by revisiting the past, with music that pours from the same creative wellspring that fueled his signature '70s albums such as "Tupelo Honey." Recorded in England, with orchestral overdubs added in Morrison's native Ireland, this CD presents familiar but fresh musical and lyrical strains on all 10 tracks, including the autumn ballad "When the Leaves Come Falling Down," with the haunting refrain: "Follow me down, follow me down, follow me down/ To the space between the twilight and the dawn." Back on top, indeed.

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