This latest Van Morrison record sounds superficially like inoffensive fairground music, written with the wisdom of a fuzzy, stuffed bear and with only marginally less smugness. Since 2020, The Belfast Cowboy has become a musical figurehead in anti-lockdown sentiment. Much of this LP is philosophically scant because Van’s suspicions tend to draw on misguided superiority and rambling fears—each of which are further hollowed by vanity. As he laughs at “snowflakes in their homes” throughout lockdown, there’s a feeling that Van wants his nightmares to actualise just to ‘show ‘em’. Despite a few great musical moments, few protest albums will be as self-obsessed this decade.
A favourite: ‘Stage Name’
‘What’s It Gonna Take?’ is out now via Exile Music Ltd.