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Van Morrison - Pay The Devil

Van Morrison, Pay The Devil

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

PAY The Devil is a new country set from Van Morrison that takes in some of the legendary singer’s personal favourites, as well as three original recordings.

The album allows Morrison to explore his inner cowboy more than ever before, drawing on the classic songs of artists such as Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, Merle Kilgore and Leon Payne and putting Morrison’s own distinct style over things.

It could easily have been recorded in Nashville, yet incredibly was recorded in Ireland, using a reliable and trusted set of musicians that Morrison has worked with for some time. Indeed, Morrisson has never even been to Nashville – but adores the music and has continually been inspired by it during his 40-year career.

Highlights include the classics such as Your Cheatin’ Heart, Things Have Gone To Pieces and Big Blue Diamonds – many of which have been covered on several occasions but which benefit from Morrison’s undoubted passion for the genre.

He injects a great deal of personal feeling into everything that he does, making tracks like What Am I Living For?, really stand out and re-connecting with many of the themes that shape country music, from love, life and loss to salvation and sin.

Many of the tracks arrived steeped in really old-school country and western values, containing a dusty, gritty feel that could only have emerged from America’s Deep South (take This Has Got To Stop as an example).

While his rendition of Rodney Crowell’s early masterpiece, Till I Gain Control is sure to delight Morrison’s legion of fans.

Of the new material, Playhouse is a sly, infectious track that is dripping in Morrison’s soulful style, while title track Pay The Devil is a rousing reflection on making the devil’s music that includes the fine reminder that ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’.

Needless to say, the album is certain to delight fans of Morrison, while also providing an interesting alternative for country music followers. It’s well worth checking out for anyone who has followed Morrison’s inspiring career.

Track listing:

  1. There Stands The Glass
  2. Half As Much
  3. Things Have Gone To Pieces
  4. Big Blue Diamonds
  5. Playhouse
  6. Your Cheatin’ Heart
  7. Don’t You Make Me High
  8. My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It
  9. Back Street Affair
  10. Pay The Devil
  11. What Am I Living For
  12. This Has Got To Stop
  13. Once A Day
  14. More And More
  15. Till I Gain Control Again