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A Time To Love - Press Release

Philadelphia Inquirer

Fetching Melodies and Gorgeous Style in Stevie Wonder’s Latest
Dan DeLuca
17 October 2005

Forgive Stevie Wonder for taking 10 years between albums. After all, the guy began his life's work - writing and recording incomparable music that has made the world an immeasurably better place - when he was only 12 years old. So if he wants to bide his time and wait for inspiration, that's his affair.

And now that he's back in business, be thankful that the 55-year-old Wonder is up to making music as captivating as A Time To Love (three stars out of four), the Motown multi-instrumentalist's first album since 1995's Conversation Peace.

Not that Love is close to being a full-fledged Stevie Wonder masterpiece to stand beside opuses such as Talking Book or Songs In the Key Of Life. But it's a pretty, pleasurable record with more than enough of Wonder's signature attributes - fetching melodies, abiding positivity, the gorgeously yearning style that has launched untold R&B singers - to carry the day.

Occasionally, Wonder succumbs to mawkishness, as on the hurricane-relief ballad "Shelter in the Rain," or when he's assigning human emotions to meteorological events on "Passionate Raindrops." But mostly, A Time To Love is suffused with an innately spiritual optimism - all his songs "come from God through me," he told Oprah last year - that finds reasons to be hopeful despite the suffering that surrounds us.

In "Positivity," one of two duets with his daughter Aisha Morris (who inspired "Isn't She Lovely?") he rides a percolating groove and sings: "I'm not saying life can't be rough / But you'll never find me giving up." On "So What The Fuss," the album's most compelling serving of knee-deep funk (with a guitar part played by Prince), he serves a reminder that the land of plenty remains an unequal society.

And on the title track, a collaboration with India.Arie, he despairs that people make time to fight wars, spread hate, and wreck the environment, leading to the album's central question: "When will there be a time to love?" It's a tribute to Wonder's still-prodigious powers of musical persuasion that in his hands, the query doesn't sound simple-minded, but in urgent need of answering.