Van Morrison Deborah Landau - Essay

Deborah Landau

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Finally we have Van Morrison's long-awaited LP [Tupelo Honey]. Weeks before the album was available, the two singles, Tupelo Honey and Wild Night, were already smash hits, and with good reason. The title song is one of the most joyous love melodies to have come around in a long time…. With that kind of preview, it was surely an album to look forward to. But now that it's here, it seems anticipation outstripped fulfillment.

This album, like Morrison himself, should appeal mostly to very young listeners. Not that his work is immature—there is no denying Morrison is a strong singer with a well-developed style—but it's rather his orientation. He's playing it safe, not taking any chances. We would have been ready for this album years ago. Aside from its lack of originality, there's nothing wrong with it, really, and though his songs don't say much … they're pleasant to listen to and highly melodic. Morrison's distinctive, emotion-packed voice is at least as expressive as "heavy" lyrics might be—a gentle joy in life, in love itself. But this is one area where consistency isn't a virtue. Every artist has to evolve and grow, but Morrison doesn't seem to be going anywhere, at least in light of his previous work. Van Morrison could make much better use of his unique voice than he does here.

Deborah Landau, "Entertainment: 'Tupelo Honey'," in Stereo Review (copyright © 1972 by Ziff-Davis Publishing Company), Vol. 28, No. 1, January, 1972, p. 110.