For fans of Rod Stewart's raunchy, early 1970s output with the band Faces, the five-album Great American Songbook series he released between 2002 and 2010 was sometimes a difficult task. You had to admire his interpretational skills as he covered songs by Porter, Berlin and The Gershwins, but where was the edge, the appetite for something other than a soft shoe shuffle? And where, come to that, was his muse? Happily, writing last year's memoir Rod: The Autobiography, seems to have blown away some cobwebs. Time is a surprisingly candid record showcasing Stewart's first self-wrote songs in 20 years – and rather good they are, too. Though Live the Life, offering words of wisdom to his son Liam, borrows heavily from Rod's 1970 classic Maggie May and the 80s-sounding floor-filler Sexual Religion conjures Rod in leopard-skin leggings, his voice remains a classy and unique instrument and there are some indelible melodies here. It's the singer's willingness to parse difficult subjects (It's Over tackles divorce; Brighton Beach concerns the ill-starred love affair that led to the birth of his first daughter) that makes Time compelling.
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