'A Time To Love' may not restore his commercial standing, but it will certainly come...
Chris Jones 2005
After a Kate Bush-challenging ten year break, Stevie Wonder finally returns. Considering his acknowledged genius and his early 70s track record of FIVE perfect albums in a row, after a decade off you'd expect something half decent, wouldn't you?And that's pretty much what you get.
ATTL suffers mainly from its sequencing. Too many of the slower (and more schmaltzy) tracks are squeezed into the second half, making it lose pace. Yet Stevie's gift for melody remains utterly assured and there's little waste here.
The obligatory celebrity pals show up (Prince, Kim Burrell, India Arie etc.), but never detract from the whole. He even has the sense to get Paul McCartney to play guitar, rather than sing on the title track. So we're spared another ''Ebony and Ivory''. The most remarkable guest, however, is daughterAisha Morris on ''How Will I Know''. Yes, the same one who wailed on ''Isn't She Lovely'' nearly thirty years ago.
While Wonder's heartfelt songs of love and understanding may appear embarrassingly straightforward in this ironic age, there's no denying the emotional sincerity behind them. A Time To Love may not restore his commercial standing, but it will certainly come as a relief to his fans.