. It's a pallid, uninspired, adult-oriented affair of the heart dripping with sentimental affection. Attempts at injecting Human
with some relevancy (like a duet with Macy Gray and a track written and produced by New Radicals' Gregg Alexander) come off as blundering misuses of talent. All this and name-dropping Charlie Parker, just for the hell of it. It's one of Stewart's absolute worst. Of course, things weren't always this dismal. Every Picture Tells a Story
, now 30 years old, is one of rock's defining statements of independence. Even 1976's A Night on the Town
had moments of Brit-rock brilliance. It was right around the time Stewart asked, "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" that things turned bad. And it wasn't just the labored disco groove of that No. 1 hit. It was the lifestyle Stewart maintained at the time, the crossing over from rock star to gossip-page perennial. He became better known for the foxy blondes he was shagging than the actual music he was making and never rebounded from that bout of celebrity status. The '80s and '90s were stuffed with forgettable songs and albums. Some hit big -- like his cover of Tom Waits's "Downtown Train." And some really just sucked -- like that Legal Eagles
theme song he did, The Three Musketeers
tune with Bryan Adams and Sting, and just about anything he's recorded specifically for a movie. Which brings us back around to his new-millennium makeover: adult crooner singing adult songs for an audience that just doesn't seem to care anymore. At least he still does "Maggie May" in concert.
It's easy to understand why Rod Stewart doesn't spend much energy on the languid songs that make up his latest album,