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Words fail me, but I'll try...,
This review is from: A Time To Love (Audio CD)
The only reason why I'm bothering to write this (I never do) is the sheer genius of Stevie Wonder. In more ways than I care to remember, Stevie has had the most profound influence on my life. His best music, as so many agree, is simply art.
With this release, I was nervous as I didn't know what to expect from him after so long - I needn't have worried, as it turns out. A Time to Love is peerless!
Yes I've read all the previous reviews, as well as those of various newspaper journalists, many of whom have striven to say what they think sounds coolest. Yes, ATTL is not like Stevie's classic 70s albums nor, in my view, should they be. We live in another time, yet Stevie addresses this disparity with one constant: his music.
Why should he sound like R. Kelly or Dr. Dre or Usher et al? They sound as they do because of Stevie! And fortunately for us all, Stevie sounds on this album like Stevie - not 60s 'Little', not 70s 'Prolific Genius', not 80s-90s 'Boring Synthesist' - just Stevie, for all the reasons we love and loathe him.
The funky anger is there: (So What the Fuss, Please Don't Hurt My Baby); the message songs are there (If Your Love Cannot Be Moved, Positivity, A Time to Love); the poetic, whimsical tunes are there (Moon Blue, Passionate Raindrops, My Love Is On Fire); and the love songs are there (Sweetest Somebody I know, How Will I Know, Can't Imagine Love Without You). But above all of this, there's the vocal prowess, the unrivalled multi-instrument playing, and the most suitable arrangement for each song.
However long we've waited for this, and whatever the perceived weaknesses of Stevie's 80s/90s output, the legend rediscovers his stride in this work. Someone earlier classified this album as derivative - of what, I'm forced to ask? If Stevie is derivative of anyone, it must be himself, for there was nobody on his level before him and honestly, in the 30+ years that all the naysayers constantly refer to as his halcyon days, someone has yet to step forward. If Stevie nowadays seems unduly sappy and sentimental, perhaps it's because the world's become more cynical - we forget that we loved 'You are the Sunshine of my Life' and 'All is Fair in Love' right in the midst of the tempestuous 70s.
It remains for me to say that the man, the artist, the musician has in no way diminished. If his music has appeared to mellow, that's because it's been tempered by experience and burnished with living. Indeed, with this latest offering, Stevie's voice (in all ways) has never been more relevant or accomplished!