Wednesday, 19 September 2018
Rod Stewart - Time (2013)
Released May 2013
Rod Stewart's songwriting mojo had deserted him, apparently, for the best part of twenty years, apart from some collaborations here and there that appeared on his various albums in that time. There had still been some good ones, on "A Spanner In The Works" and "When We Were The New Boys", but most of the time had been taken up with seemingly endless volumes of "The Great American Songbook", an album of rock covers and one of soul covers (oh and a Christmas one). What he seemed to have lost was the ability he once had to pen a shamelessly nostalgic look back at the good old days of his past, something he previously excelled in. However, writing his autobiography brought all those memories flooding back and he says he suddenly got the desire to write songs again. This album was the result. There is certainly some good stuff on it, but it is, like many contemporary albums, a little sprawling and disconnected, contains more than a little syrup schmaltz than my taste is happy with. It was hailed, predictably, as a "return to form" (cliche alert), but I have always found it just a bit patchy. It was great to have Stewart the storytelling songwriter back but there are parts of the album that veer too close to cheesy for my liking.
Anyway, on with the songs. "She Makes Me Happy" starts with a vibrant, wailing Celtic-style fiddle and a beat that owes a bit to the acoustic-driven glories of "Gasoline Alley". Stewart's romantic, soft old soul kicks in on the lyrics about the love his life (presumably Penny). It is a barnstorming opener though. The old anthemic nostalgia is firmly back for the stadium-pleasing "Can't Stop Me Now", with a nice verse in tribute to his late Father at the climax of the song. Yes, it is a real hands in the air singalong number but I can't help but like it. "It's Over" is a mournful lament for a broken marriage, a heartbreaking typical Stewart ballad. "Brighton Beach" is a song that sees Rod thinking back to a teenage affair in Brighton. It is a nice tale of times gone by with a fetching violin in the backing. Rod describes himself as a "scruffy working class teenage troubadour...". A classic Stewart line.
"Beautiful Morning" is reasonable rocker, while "Live The Life" has a bit of a mid-seventies feel to it and some slightly saccharine lyrics about writing an email to his son. "Finest Woman" has Rod praising his wife again, over a "Hot Legs"-style rock and brass beat. "Time" is a Stones-ish slow ballad well delivered by Stewart but "Picture in A Frame" harks back to the crooning songs of "The Great American Songbook". By now, after a promising start, I find the album beginning to tire me a little. "Sexual Religion" is a disco-ish chugger in the "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" fashion and also reminds me so much of his eighties synth-pop, soft rock days. It is pretty bland and disposable, I have to be honest.
"Make Love To Me Tonight" has a pure Faces/early solo/Stones' "Factory Girl" fiddle intro and melody, a real echo of the past, but the lyrics are pretty corny. The tune is a killer though. "Pure Love" is a bit maudlin and not a little drippy. It also goes on far too long, as indeed does the album. Half way through the album I had exhausted it, I have to admit, I much prefer many of his other albums over many different decades over this, despite the renaissance he had clearly undergone. Obviously I always go for the early and mid-seventies material, but I would also choose "A Spanner In The Works", "When We Were The New Boys", "Vagabond Heart" and "Out Of Order" before this one. This would horrify many, but I would choose "Human" too.
- September 19, 2018