A Time To Love - Press Release
Rolling Stone Magazine
Stevie Wonder - A Time To Love
Friday October 07
Complain all you want about Stevie Wonder taking his sweet time --
ten years of it in this case -- to deliver a new record. On A Time to
Love, the soul giant (and notoriously fussy producer) used that go-slow
approach where it really counts: in the grooves. The best tracks on this
much-superior follow-up to 1995's flabby Conversation Peace reconnect
Wonder with a key trait of "Superstition" and much of his storied
Seventies output: a rhythm section that keeps to its own sauntering,
Almost half of the fifteen songs recall Wonder at his prime -- they
start from a crisp, nothing-fancy backbeat and gather drama as they
steamroll along. The opening strut, "If Your Love Can Not Be Moved,"
which features gospel powerhouse Kim Burrell, gradually swells into
cinematic hugeness. "Tell Your Heart I Love You," which sports one of
the most addictive refrains Wonder has written since "Master Blaster,"
works because there's room for the sweeping, pleading melody, which
Wonder sings and plays on harmonica, to unwind. The noirish ballad "Moon
Blue" inspires dazzling vocal ad-libs from Wonder -- enough to give most
Mariah Carey disciples nightmares. And "Positivity," one of two tracks
featuring Wonder's daughter Aisha Morris (previously heard splashing in
the tub on "Isn't She Lovely"), turns on a tightly wound Jackson 5-style
pulse that is the essence of optimism.
Several of the remaining songs are much less satisfying: "Shelter in
the Rain," the album's designated hurricane-relief track, is
overwrought, and "Passionate Raindrops" and "My Love Is On Fire" are
gunked-up clutter. But when Wonder gets a good idea, he instinctively
leaves it alone, letting that strong and eternal spirit that animates
all his best work shine through, in its own sweet time.