Music is always better when the recording artist has something to say. I don't just mean lyrically. All the good albums in my collection have a central theme which is sometimes reflected in the title or the words of the songs, and sometimes not. And it's those albums I listen to from start to finish every time.
It's been ten years since Stevie Wonder's last studio album. With his latest work 'A Time To Love', the message is clear. What we need is more love. In his own words 'Among all the wonderful things we have, we don't seem to have a time to love. And to me that's the fuel, that's the fuel we need to make the engine go.'
Stevie Wonder has the kind of songwriting talent that is timeless and universal. His songs, from his debut to the present, aim themselves at your heart and your soul. Try and remember the first Stevie Wonder song you ever heard. Then ask yourself why you fell in love with it. I'll bet it was because you could relate to the story in some way. That's his appeal; it's music about us. Music about people. Music about the way we interact and what we do to each other. Music for the soul.
Funky, jazzy, sometimes blue, sometimes tickled pink, sometimes deep in passion, and sometimes reaching right inside you, 'A Time To Love' is full of powerful stuff. With stories that each reinforce the message 'make time to love', this collection, nearly 80 minutes in length, is something you shouldn't miss.
I could spend the next fifteen columns exalting the collection of fifteen songs one by one. But to save you and my editor some sanity [ editor's note: Thanks. Peter ] , I'll highlight some of the tracks that stuck with me.
Ever the balladeer, 'True Love' is a down-tempo jazz song with him at the piano, a sax, a bass, and that glorious rich voice that blends with anything. It's a Sunday evening kind of song; relaxed and colorful.
It took two seconds for me to love 'So What The Fuss'. Then I looked at the credits and almost dropped the book. Both Prince and EnVogue help Stevie work this song into a funk laden jam. It stayed on repeat for a few listens.
At nine minutes and seventeen seconds, the duet with India.Arie is amazing. It's the title track. 'A Time To Love' and is a completely fitting end to the album. It starts with an orchestral mix with lots of different ethnic sounding beats. The main duet begins with both singers together. And then it takes a turn and builds up into an operatic sounding chorus and Stevie starts to preach. When he finishes, the tabla drums take the lead and fill the last two minutes. Organic and spiritual, once again Stevie Wonder proves he can reach inside of you and evoke something you didn't know was there.
With you in 4/4,