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A Time To Love - Press Release

St. Petersburg Times

Wonder Why He Waited 10 Years?
Sean Daly
19 October 2005

"Everybody say yeah! YEAH!!!"

Oh, the joyful noise of the Stevie Wonder hit parade: For Once in My Life, Higher Ground, Sir Duke. Has there even been an artist more adept at turning around a cruddy day? Thirty-three years later and Superstition can still make you bust out that dorky air keyboard. At this stage in his career, the 55-year-old Wonder is, as critics like to say, "critic-proof." He's a hero. An icon. Let the man go through, ya know?

All of this is a reverent way of saying that the best thing about A Time to Love, Stevie's first new material in 10 years, is that it'll make you dust off your copy of 1976's Songs in the Key of Life, the greatest double album of all time (well, at least it was this morning).

Of the 15 new tracks, six of 'em flat-out cook, proving that when he's hot, Wonder is still a masterblaster at firing up your groove thing. He's a notorious fuss-budget in the studio, and you can hear where he stuffed the extra oomph.

First single So What the Fuss, which sums up the album's peace-on-Earth-or-else theme, has a grinding midtempo beat, and a wicked guitar cameo by Prince, that will inspire all manner of creative body moving. The album's best track, the suspiciously sexy abstinence cut Please Don't Hurt My Baby, isn't just funky - it's P-Funky ("I was blinded by sexsation, temporarily out of my head. Aah please don't hurt my baby, she mustn't know we went to bed").

Wonder's tinkly ballads have always been far less moving, of course, and that's where A Time to Love bloats up. Such touchy-feely assaults as Passionate Raindrops and Moon Blue are Hallmarkian sentiment wrapped in numbing keyboard swirls. Can't Imagine Love Without You ("Can you picture Mother Earth in the palm of your hand") isn't soulful; it's just gooey.

Stevie spends far too much time floating about in his idealistic clouds. But of all his special guests (Bonnie Raitt, Paul McCartney), there's only one who can truly humble him: his daughter, Aisha Morris, all grown up since her 1976 cameo as the cooing, splashing baby on Isn't She Lovely. With a voice reminiscent of Natalie Cole's, Morris duets with dad on warm jazz workout How Will I Know, then helps cut the sap on the bouncy Positivity, which, I'm happy to report, makes a strong case for more of your dorky air keyboard.