Sunday, May 12, 2013

Record Review: Rod Stewart--Time (2013)

     It's been dammed difficult at times to be a Rod Stewart fan. In the 70's he was one of the best singer-songwriters that rock music had to offer. His voice was outstanding, but it was the depth of his writing that kept you long after the music and voice grabbed you. Somewhere in the early 80's, he began to stray, seemingly enjoying his fame much more than his craft. Since the late 80's, he has been maddeningly inconsistent in his output, every now and then showing those glimpses of his past, but more often settling for the work of others...and don't even get me started on the "Great American Songbook" stuff. The release of his autobiography spurred him to pick up his guitar and for the first time since the early 90's, wrote almost an entire album full of material. This by itself piqued my interest.    
     What we have with "Time" is one of his best in a long, long time. The songs seems to veer from love songs to his current wife, to songs about the bad relationships along the way. Anyone who knows Rod's story knows he has a large truck full of those (failed relationships that is), and some of them are quite good, even doing what I thought was a great job with the Tom Waits songs, "Picture In a Frame"
     My favorite song on the CD was, "Live the Life". Lyrically it's a bit sappy (although not so much when you compare it to the love songs), but for a brief moment we got the folky Stewart which harkened back to his early 70's output. The other songs veered more toward the adult contemporary which he has been doing for over 25 years now. Other highlights included, "She Makes Me Happy", "Brighton Beach" and "Beautiful Morning". If you don't mind springing for the CD with bonus tracks, it will be well worth your effort as two of the three songs, "Corrina Corrina" and "Legless" (which if you were a fan of Stewart with the Faces, the subject matter will give you a smile), are winners as well.
     My wish however is that Rod would attempt at least one album which harkened back to his 70's output. Before you dismiss this as just a pipe dream on my part, all one has to do is look at what his friend Elton John has done over the last 10 years. At some point, Elton chose to go back to crafting music to suit himself rather than what the style of the day dictated. The result has been a series of albums that perhaps is not as good as his early 70's stuff, but harken back to that day. Rod is still in good voice, and my hope is that this is the beginning of a renaissance of a talent which, in it's day made him one of best. As it stands, this is better than anything he's done in 30 years. My hope is that this upward trend continues.



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