The Cosmic American

Former Van Morrison bassist Clive Culbertson shows his continued songwriting chops on 'Broken Heart'

Screen Shot 2023-01-29 at 8.24.59 AM

To say that Clive Culbertson has an impressive pedigree is something of an understatement. He released some too-often overlooked singles in the late ‘70s, palled around with a famous fellow Irishman, and has released some of his best music in the last decade.


Culbertson first made a name for himself with a series of singles in the late ‘70s. Straddling the line between punk and Elvis Costello-esque New Wave/power pop, tracks like “Time To Kill” and “Busy Signal” still sound fresh today.


He befriended Van Morrison in the 1980s and eventually became his bass player. That’s him on massive hit “Have I Told You Lately” and on the entirety of the LP it came from, Avalon Sunset.


He’s kept busy over the last decade, sporadically releasing singles and albums, most recently country-tinged 2022 single “Old Tennessee.” As a Nashville cat, I dig it.


In 2013, Culbertson released Still Here, Still Smiling, a collection of catchy, singer-songwriter pop rock. The single from that album, “Just Good Friends,” is a piece of fun, crunchy alternative rock, and its befitting of the entire album. Other highlights include emotive “Are You the One?” and rock oriented, almost disco-y “How Can This Be Wrong?”


One of the best tracks on Still Here, Still Smiling is “Broken Heart.” It has a radio ready catchiness and could be played on pop stations or even country stations. Its singalong chorus will stick with you and the guitar work is hard-hitting and exceptional.


Culbertson’s ace in the hole is his voice. It has a warmth and subtle power that fits his combination of pop, rock, and just a little bit country. It shines on “Broken Heart,” giving it a downhome flavor that fits the song.


Though he’s flown under many people’s radars, Clive Culbertson has had an impressive career, from the fun singles of his late 70s youth to his most recent singles and albums. “Broken Heart” is a good introduction to his more recent work.

Erik Ritland is a songwriter and journalist from Nashville, Tennessee. He's released 13 records and EPs, most recently 2021's innovative movie album Old Dog Almost Gone. His journalism has been featured on Something Else! Reviews, Music in Minnesota, and more, and his articles have been shared by members of bands as diverse as KISS, the Monkees, Son Volt, and Low Cut Connie.