Pay the Devil

Given how much a traditional Irish tune and a traditional Nashville song have in common (e.g., drinking and cheating), it was only a matter of time before Van Morrison got around to dabbling in country. On Pay the Devil, he settles comfortably into ageless, beer-drenched standards like ”There Stands the Glass” and ”Back Street Affair.” With his slurry brogue, Morrison is a natural at sounding like a disconsolate guy unloading on a bartender. The album is a little too respectful of tradition sometimes: The multiple, Bob Wills-style fiddles are fine, but we didn’t really need a revival of schmaltzy choirs straight out of countrypolitan records of the ’60s. Yet despite moments when Morrison sounds like someone in a Dublin karaoke pub, the record goes down as easy as a shot of fine whiskey. Hank would probably have liked it, even if one of the few missteps is, ironically, a sluggish cover of ”Your Cheatin’ Heart.”

Pay the Devil
  • Music