A Time To Love - Press Release
St. Petersburg Times
Wonder Why He Waited 10 Years?
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
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
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.