Pay the Devil: Van Morrison 

Who would have thought that Van Morrison would go country? His 40-year solo career has consisted of rock, blues, R&B and jazz. But, in spring of 2006, Morrison released Pay the Devil, which explores his evident affection for country music, more specifically, old fashioned, classic, country music. How do Morrison and country music go together? Is it a good combination? I think the combination is as sweet as peanut butter and jelly, as comforting as milk and cookies, and as natural as oats and honey. The album is, in a word, wonderful.

Many traditional country songs feature vocals in isolation as the center of each song. The 15 tracks on Pay the Devil are no exception. We get to hear Morrison's voice clearer than ever. His voice so uniquely floats in vibrato, that it sounds both strange and fabulous as it is accompanied by simple bass melodies, fiddle, and steel guitar.

Pay the Devil includes some original material as well as covers of Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart" and "Things Have Gone to Pieces" by George Jones. These classics sound familiar, but are completely different with Morrison singing them.

I've had this CD in my car for weeks now. I know I need to move on, but it puts me into a good mood each time I hear it. Pay the Devil is both reassuring and stimulating. If you like classic country music and you've ever liked Van Morrison, this one's for you.

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