thu 24/09/2020

CD: Rod Stewart - Time | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Rod Stewart - Time

CD: Rod Stewart - Time

Regret, not marital bliss, brings out the seductive songsmith of yore

Rod Stewart has not exactly been inactive since he last wrote a decent tune towards the tail-end of the Seventies, but all that squiring and siring has left him little time to gaze navelwards in song. Since he started having fun with blondes, his best lines have been funnelled into seduction. So it's a bit of a turn-up that 20 years after he last recorded his own compositions, here comes Stewart’s most personal testament yet.

As detailed in his delightful autobiography there’s a lot of material to work through, including third-time-lucky nuptial bliss. It's moot whether the pleasures of late-blooming fidelity suit Stewart musically. The opening four-square stomp that is “She Makes Me Happy” may not make anyone else happy. Forty-plus years on from the libidinous "Maggie May", there's something icky about being summoned into a 68-year-old's bedroom in “Sexual Religion” and “Make Love to Me Tonight”. And a most unRodlike evangelical joy suffuses “Beautiful Morning” and “Finest Woman” (which sounds like the Faces on detox).

His soppier side finds a more natural channel in filial thoughts (“Can’t Stop Me Now”, rockily addressed to a doubting father) and the wise paternal counsel doled out in “Live the Life” and “Pure Love”. But the vintage DNA of the storytelling tunesmith is best looked for in a trio of heartbreak songs. The title track finds him trudging away from a failed marriage, while “It’s Over” sentimentally recalls one of his wedding days. Neither quite suppresses a nagging note of maudlin self-pity, but there's none of that in “Brighton Beach”, a tender lament for a teenage love affair consummated by the sea.

Stewart always knew how to let other songwriters speak for him, so it’s no criticism to say that the most impeccable song on Time is a cover. Tom Waits’s woozy “Picture in a Frame” (sung a couple of keys higher than Waits) seduces and compels. Not at all bad for an old fella.

Overleaf: Rod Stewart sings 'It's Over'


I was drawn to this review, if only because of the word "icky" which I thought was just part of my vocabulary, although I imagine is used in the same context. I went through a (thankfully) very short phase of liking "icky" music when my flatmate at the time,kept playing Barry Manilow LPs. I loved Maggie May and most of Rod Stewart's albums prior to his leopard skin leggings phase and am therefore curious to check this album out, if only out of curiousity.

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters