January 19, 2010

Rod Stewart's Soulbook Lacks

In spite of a few wonderful cuts, Rod Stewart's excursion in 60s Motown territory is a bust. Rod's vocals lack depth, the song choices are mostly uninspired, and the production lacks spark. Like his Songbook collections from the past, there are guest artists (including Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Hudson) aplenty to push things along. Unfortunately, they add nothing to the ride.

Highlights: My Cherie Amour, the Stevie Wonder ode to young love given a very warm harmonica treatment, as well as a wistful reading by Rod. The other bright spot is the closer. The Temptations' Just My Imagination. When it first came on, I exclaimed "This was what I was waiting for!" The arrangement mainly sticks to the original and the result is charming and soulful. Exactly what everything else on this disc is lacking.

(If you're looking for something similar but much better, check out Michael McDonald's discs like Soul Speak, Motown, and Motown 2. Stronger performances, better arrangements- just richer.)

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