Picks and Pans Review: Avalon Sunset

updated 07/24/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/24/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Van Morrison

Morrison the white soul singer is but a glimmering memory. Van the man sailed off into the mystic a long time ago. His records have grown ever more moody, poetic and challenging over time. But, for the most part, they're no less rewarding.

Avalon Sunset, with such songs as "When Will I Ever Learn to Live in God," "Contacting My Angel" and "Whenever God Shines His Light," takes the Irishman's spiritual yearning to new heights, but in a musical setting that is surprisingly sweet, often lush and approachable. Morrison's slurry but robust voice is in top form. The lyrics celebrate love, nature, redemption and beauty, as in "Contacting My Angel": "Said I've been on a journey up the mountain side/ And I drank the water from the stream/ It was pure, pure water and I got completely healed."

On the bluesy swing of "I'd Love to Write Another Song," Morrison acknowledges his fall from commercialism: "I'd love to write another song/ To carry me along/ Make some money, pay the bills/ Keep me busy too." No need to apologize, Van, not as long as you bestow on us albums like Avalon Sunset, which is as restful and restorative to the soul as a long walk along the strand. (Mercury)

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