A Time To Love - Press Release
Fetching Melodies and Gorgeous Style in Stevie Wonder’s
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.