Back in the 1970's, vocalist Van Morrison changed the face of vocal jazz with Moondance
. At the time, Moondance
was a very innovative song that dared to change what a vocal was supposed to sound like. Morrison has released his latest CD What's Wrong With This Picture
. My answer to that question is what happened?
Since the 70's, Morrison has gone from an innovator to a performer that stays in one mode and seldom strays away from it. On What's Wrong With This Picture
, Morrison uses the same kind of backing group on each song, which makes each track sound the same. Once in a Blue Moon
and Saint James Infirmary
have a similarity to it that at times sounds very unprofessional. The CD title track adds strings to the mix, but as the song goes on, the background performers bring down Morrison's performance.
As for Van Morrison's vocal performance, the grittiness is still there, but there is something missing. Just like Michael McDonald has lost some of his enunciation of some of the words in his songs, Morrison is also losing some of it, especially in some of the quieter passages. I know you should sing your soul out on some songs, but at times when you want to bring out why you feel the way you do, it's important that the listener hears what you are trying to say. What's Wrong With This Picture
is the kind of release where some performers have to decide whether to continue releasing new material or just continue to perform what they are comfortable with live. If Van Morrison wants to continue releasing new material, he must try to find a way to show that he accepts the direction that music is going. If he doesn't like the way music is going, he should make that statement by going out on the road to perform and stop recording. If What's Wrong With This Picture
is the best that Morrison can do, it is very wrong.