The older legendary singer-songwriter Van Morrison gets, the more his recordings become documents of a man trying to come to terms with himself and his place in the world. Some 30 studio albums into his career, 2008's KEEP IT SIMPLE is no exception. There are moments here when Morrison gets in touch with his romantic side, as on the wistfully longing "Lover Come Back" and the love-addled "Entrainment" (in case you were wondering, the title refers to the state of being dragged along). Nevertheless, from the '90s on, there's been a dark, sometimes bitter streak to Morrison's themes, seemingly reacting to negative experiences both in the music business and as a human on the planet. KEEP IT SIMPLE continues that streak. Morrison reminds us that "straight reality is always cold" on the title track, sings of being educated by "The School of Hard Knocks," and observes "only a fool would surmise everyone is sane" on "No Thing." No matter how dark the lyrical outlook though, his patented musical paradigm--an agreeable amalgam of folk-rock, blues, soul, jazz, and the occasional Celtic breeze--is enough to put plenty of wind in the sails of even the most cantankerous traveler.
Rolling Stone (p.64) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he arrangements are elegantly spare: subtle works of guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion, occasional backup singers and, at the center of it all, Morrison's incomparable voice, as expressive as ever.'
Entertainment Weekly (p.61) - "The title track shows that time has little withered Van Morrison's voice....There are moments during this self-penned collection of bluesy numbers that the Irishman does indeed KEEP IT SIMPLE." -- Grade: B
Uncut (p.103) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[With] a 24-carat Morrison classic, the deconstructionist meditation 'Behind The Ritual'. Simple for him it may be -- but, really, no one else does anything like it."
Down Beat (p.81) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Morrison uses his marvelously malleable voice to take the listener on a low-key, but highly evocative, tour of his musical influences and experiences."
No Depression (p.67) - "Blues shuffles and country ballads are the templates for much of KEEP IT SIMPLE....'Song Of Home' is a sweet country waltz..."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.98) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[A] sturdy set of impeccably-played blues and soul with little of the garnish he's previously used to paper over the cracks of less powerful material."