Van Morrison - Roll with the Punches Album Review

Story posted September 26, 2017 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Lilly Adams

It was no doubt a surprise to all when Van Morrison announced his 37th self-produced studio album was to be released on Sept. 22, 2017. The album, titled Roll with the Punches, is an interesting jazz and blues compilation that the singer filled with old time soul covers and 5 new pieces written by Van the Man himself. Not only did the album come as a surprise, but the large amount of cover songs did as well. Morrison himself explained that “the songs on Roll With the Punches – whether I've written them or not – they're performance oriented, each song is like a story and I'm performing that story. That's been forgotten over years because people over-analyze things. I was a performer before I started writing songs, and I've always felt like that's what I do."

This singer no doubt performed these classics to the best of his ability, touching every listener with the bluesy, R&B feel that everybody knows and loves. The album begins with the raw and passionate song entitled “Roll with the Punches,” completely proving to the audience that this 72-year-old artist still has that gritty vehement that he has built his name on. The old-fashioned, heavy bass aesthetic keeps the listener absorbed throughout the entire song, which is a striking and excellent way to begin an album. The album then takes a complete turn to the intimate and familiar sound that Morrison has developed with an original song entitled “Transformation.” It’s clear to the audience that the Irish artist is continually hopeful about his career and embraces the changes his music has gone through with the lyrics, “‘Member when we were downhearted/ Didn't have nowhere to go /And the wisdom of insecurity/ Just knowin' that we know /Then something starts happenin'/ Feel like you're on a roll /Gonna be a transformation/ baby down in your soul.”

The album then continues with multiple gospel and blues covers such as “I Can Tell,” “Stormy Monday/Lonely Avenue,” “Goin’ to Chicago,”  “Bring It On Home To Me,” “Teardrops From My Eyes” and ends with “Ride On Josephine.” Morrison puts an amazing and personal spin on every one of the songs, but honors the originals by not changing anything drastically. The fervent feel of all the covers and his own original tunes makes it clear the artist is staying true to his word when stated that he’s “performing every song as if it were a story.” The bygone feel of the album produces an amazing “feel good” vibe that all Morrison fans gain when listening to his music, old or new.

Morrison’s other new songs take audience members back to a 1940’s jazz club, with “Too Much Trouble,” “Fame” and “Ordinary People”. His axe and sound is classically dated, but purely sensational and a true joy to listen to. The album blends the classics and his originals perfectly, sometimes making them hard to distinguish. While Van Morrison is near retirement age, it’s clear to everybody that this singer has no intent on leaving the industry anytime soon. Van’s tour is set to kick off sometime within the remaining days of September and go until the end of February.

Album rating: 8/10


Lilly Adams is a freshman majoring in film/video studies. To contact her, email