Magic Time

Van Morrison’s most recent release, Magic Time, is like a greatest hits album with all new songs, ranging from quiet, soulful contemplations of his Avalon Sunset and even Astral Weeks periods to the jazz- and R&B-rooted grooves of the last few albums. Even the front cover itself is a nod to previous material: a photo of a young couple moondancing on a marvelous, fantabulous night. In addition to the expected and deeply personal originals—ruminations on youth, loneliness, exile, the music industry and the lion inside—Morrison, who turns 60 at the end of next month, takes on some standards that lend the disc a sense of mellowed, thoughtful maturity. If nothing else, Magic Time is worth the price of admission just to hear him channeling Frank Sinatra on “This Love of Mine” and Louis Armstrong on “I’m Confessin’” and “Lonely and Blue”—the latter ending with Van the Man scat-singing like Satchmo his own self. Oh, yeah.