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A Time To Love - Press Release

Miami Herald

A Time 2 Love
Brian McCollum
29 October 2005

If you're a legendary figure from music's old guard, it's been a good year for a little artistic rehabilitation. On new albums, such icons as the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Van Morrison have made belated but successful attempts to reclaim honest inspiration, producing music superior to most of their recent work.

Stevie Wonder may now join those fellow veterans in the 2005 winners' circle. A Time to Love -- delayed so often it has mystique built in -- isn't perfect. But in the context of Wonder's latter-day career, it's as ideal as we can reasonably expect.

For his first album in 10 years, there are moments when the Detroit-bred star ramps up the urgency. If Your Love Cannot Be Moved, a duet with Kim Burrell, is one of several epic productions, a six-minute blend of African drums, hip-hop beats and dark strings.

The limber Please Don't Hurt My Baby nods to Superstition-styled funk, while So What the Fuss comes with a buzz-bass bounce.

Still, as he has for two decades, Wonder clings to languid balladry. The best of the slow stuff works because of a nuanced, jazzy sophistication (Moon Blue, The Sweetest Somebody I Know), but Wonder occasionally loiters in the lukewarm zone of adult contemporary pop, minus the melodies that could redeem it all. Overall, though, it's clear the creative juices are flowing again.

On the nine-minute title track with guest vocalist India.Arie, Wonder gathers all the elements for the kind of psychoactive sonic stew that marked his early '70s work, driving home the simple love message found on each of the album's 15 tracks.

With new music from artists of Wonder's stature, we sometimes find ourselves willing it to be good simply because we wish it to be good. Here, for the most part, we can relax and enjoy an album that should age more gracefully than any Stevie Wonder release in many years.