Rod Stewart, ‘Time’ – Album Review
Since 2002, Rod Stewart has released eight albums. Each and every one of them includes songs that were written before ‘Maggie May’ hit No. 1 in 1971. A lot of them, in fact, were written before the 68-year-old rock legend learned to walk. Five ‘Great American Songbook’ albums, a rock oldies collection, an R&B oldies collection and a Christmas album – that’s pretty much how Stewart has spent the past decade.
On ‘Time,’ his first album of new material since the 2001 bomb ‘Human,’ Stewart acts his age. He’s not trying to be your grandpa (he mentions reading an e-mail in one song); he isn’t trying to be Bruno Mars either. The dozen tracks are age-appropriate ruminations on love, sex, growing old and finding peace in the little things. It’s not ‘Every Picture Tells a Story,’ but it’s just as much a representation of Stewart’s life as his 1971 classic. And it’s a hell of a lot more fitting than anything contemporaries like the Rolling Stones are doing these days.
The opening ‘She Makes Me Happy’ sets ‘Time’’s theme. Over a gently rocking rhythm guided by acoustic guitars, mandolin and accordion, Stewart celebrates domestic bliss. No more “don’t be here in the morning when I wake up” for this guy. “I’m working out daily, and I’m watching my waistline,” he sings. “When I get home, there’s a hot bath waiting.” It’s the kind of love song you’d expect from someone who’s finally left his wild past behind.
And ‘Time’ is the sort of album you’d expect from an artist who gave up his rock ‘n’ roll crown years ago. It’s a rock record for adults, and it sounds like one. Stewart wrote all but one of the ballad-heavy album’s songs, and nothing pushes too hard or forcefully. His voice is a little deeper and has lost some of its rasp, but he still sounds strong on songs like ‘Beautiful Morning’ and ‘Finest Woman.’
On the marching ‘Can’t Stop Me Now,’ he looks back on his career, name-checking ‘Maggie May’ as he sings, “I stood up straight and sang for the record-company man, my enthusiasm filled the room / I was young and I was keen with that devil in my stream as I hollered out an old blues tune.” As its title implies, ‘Time’ is an album of memories and the passage of time. He wears it well.