"California Son" reviewed by El Pais (Spain) 4 out of 10

Biggest daily in Spain. Headline sums it up, "An Empty and Insubstantial Morrissey". Says the problem is not his political pronouncements, but rather that he "gives the cold shoulder" to those singers to whom he pays homage... "Morrissey is limited to being Moorrissey" Review generally much higher quality of writing that one finds in the English-language press. This graf is especially insightful, and for me sums up perfectly what is wrong with Morrissey as a creative artist

Dice el escritor chileno Alejandro Zambra que escribir es combatirse, y que uno no puede, como escritor, acomodarse en la idea de que está siendo la clase de escritor que quiere ser, que debe andar siempre buscándose, volviéndose a encontrar, incomodándose. Lo mismo podría (y debería) aplicarse al mundo de la música. Si lo hiciésemos, bastaría entonces una comparación entre la fantasmagórica y alucinante (y extralarga) versión de que Morrissey hizo en 1994 (en la gran época de Vauxhall and I) y cualquiera de las que incluye este, su primer disco de versiones, para darse cuenta de que el de Manchester ha dejado de combatirse. Peor: vive instalado en un yo indiscutible e inalterable que ya no se incomoda, ni se busca, porque cree haberse encontrado.

My translation, may not be perfect (I am a native English speaker), but will be at least 99 percent accurate... Someone with more time should translate the whole thing -- I mean not from Google -- because it is v interesting...

The Chilean writer Alejandro Zambra says that writing is a battle, and that one cannot, as a writer, settle into the idea that one is being the kind of writer one wants to be -- one must always look for oneself, finding oneself again, being in a state of discomfort. The same could (and should) apply to the world of music. If we apply that, then a comparison between the phantasmagorical and amazing (and larger than life) version of Morrissey in 1994 (in the great moment of Vauxhall and I) and any of the songs that are included on this, his first cover album, is a good enough way of realising that the man from Manchester has stopped fighting. Worse: he lives in an unquestioned and unchanging private world that is no longer uncomfortable. Nor does he seek anything else, because he believes he has found who he is.

OK - it's nice to see a (partial) review that tries to engage intellectually with the record and with Morrissey as an artist. And I kind of agree that it's entirely possible that Morrissey now lives in a private world that's "unquestioned and unchanging...no longer uncomfortable." That's happened to many, many ageing rock stars.

But the concept from Zambra, that one must always look for oneself, finding oneself again, being in a state of discomfort - that seems to me a perfectly apt description of Morrissey as an artist. Because what if you're constantly looking for yourself, finding yourself again, and discovering that you're stuck in an inescapable existential loop of perpetual discomfort with being yourself? What do you do, then?
Yes, but doesn't necessarily help the creative process. It seems more like what the great English critic called "permanent adolescence", a fixation on one's youth and other youths to the extent that you cannot grow emotionally or intellectually. Moz broke free of this when he discovered Italy and fell in love, and there was an amazing burst of creativity. But now he seems to spend all his spare time online. Unless he spends 6 months with a spiritual guru in India or does something else that intentionally removes him from his comfort zone, we can only anticipate more infowars kind of trolling as he enters his golden years. For me the problem isn't him being on the Left or the Right. It's the lack of poetic nuance, the lack of subtlety and sophistication...
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