Heady goes herey
“Time” is not only Rod Stewart’s return to recording rock music but also his first collection of self-penned songs in decades. Such an enterprise – at least on paper – stands to reinstitute some long-lost rock credibility for Stewart and to fulfill the hopes of fans who have pined for a return to the style of Stewart’s ’70s glory days.
“Time” is being billed as his comeback although, unlike most rock comebacks, this one isn’t a return from semi-retirement nor from waning popularity; instead, it was apparently inspired by the writing process as Stewart penned his memoir last year. He wants to write and perform rock music again, and at 68, he figures he’d better get on it. Stewart may be noticing that what helps keep legends like Dylan, McCartney, Jagger and Richards fresh and relevant is that they continue to write and record new material, as do Springsteen and Tom Petty and other slightly younger artists who are also aging gracefully. Stewart has been singing nothing but your grandfather’s music for the last decade, so it makes sense that he would try to be Rod the Mod again while he’s still in relatively good voice and can still kick a few soccer balls into the crowd.
“Time” is an inconsistent batch of new tunes without an instant classic among them. Stewart produced the record himself with a decidedly heavy hand for syrupy embroidery, and his lyrics tend to suffer from too-literal, pedestrian phrases. Take the divorce ballad “It’s Over,” on which Rod pleads, “All this time I thought I knew ya /Don’t forget our children’s future /I would do whatever suits ya,” a typically clunky rhyme scheme on an album stuffed with them. Overall, “Time” is badly balanced and overproduced, but it does offer signs of life while falling short of a genuinely exciting resurgence. Folk-rock is ripe for the picking, and it’s a sound Stewart does exceedingly well. But “Time” demonstrates that he might need to set down the pen and turn the production duties over to someone else if he wants a comeback album that will truly be timeless.