Pays : Ireland Label : Virgin Music Genres et styles : Americana / Blues / Celtic / Country / Folk / Gospel / Jazz Année : 2023

Van Morrison – Moving on Skiffle

· par Alain Brunet

As prolific as the American Bob Dylan and the Canadian Neil Young, the Irishman Van Morrison is back with no less than 23 covers and original adaptations of traditional music. Let’s go back to the deep knowledge and great mastery of all Anglo-American forms, including the Celtic legacy, which Van the Man himself is a true descendant.

Moving on Skiffle covers the expressions in vogue during the first half of the previous century: skiffle, blues, boogie-woogie, folk, country&western, Texas swing, bluegrass, early R&B, Cajun zydeco, early jazz, gospel, doo-wop, Celtic folklore, rock’n’roll. All of these styles slide like butter in Van Morrison’s pan, needless to say.

For ages, the 77 year old man has been stubbornly playing the role of musicologist-creator in search of the nuggets of a past to which he clings. He thus starts his powerful music machine again for the recording of a 42nd album, a huge batch of traditional music and covers (Hank Williams, Elizabeth Cotten, Red Nelson, Dickie Bishop, Leroy Carr, Jim Reeves, Jimmie Rodgers, Washboard Sam, Hank Snow). This repertoire is rearranged by the master who impeccably respects its spirit – the proverbial voice of the singer and multi-instrumentalist, Hammond organ, harmonica, sax, guitars, piano, violin, bass, drums, choirs.

Brilliantly, Van the Man revives the spirit of American skiffle, so dear to the time of his own adolescence and that forgotten artist, the Scotsman Lonnie Donegan, who was promoting the style in UK, even before blues and rock galvanized the young British musicians of the time… now in their 70s and 80s.

Past tense in the extreme? Absolutely, but for the right reasons in this case, whatever one thinks of his conspiratorial inclinations brought to light during the pandemic, whatever one thinks of his obstinacy to look (especially listen) behind rather than ahead. There is no denying Van Morrison’s absolute expertise in the matter, and the obvious pleasure he takes in continuing this journey through the decades when the foundations of modern popular music were laid.

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