Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Rod Stewart 

Human (Atlantic)

It's sad when your voice is so expressive and you have so little to say. On Human, his first record for Atlantic Records, Rod Stewart runs through a collection of lackluster tunes, spanning the nonsensical namecheck "Charlie Parker Loves Me," the Journey-esque first single "I Can't Deny It," a clutch of cool soul tracks, and the oddly lunky -- and appealing -- "Smitten," a song by Canton native Macy Gray. However, just because some wag told Stewart that Gray sounded like a love child of his with Billie Holiday, that doesn't guarantee quality or pedigree. Despite the authentic sultriness and groove of "Soul on Soul" and "Loveless," and the intermittent guitar power Slash lends to the title track, this album sounds like a committee effort -- especially with tracks such as "It Was Love That We Needed," a ringer for Van Morrison's "Crazy Love."

Produced by Rob Dickins, who tried to restore Stewart's rock and roll reputation with 1998's earnestly youthful When We Were the New Boys, Human sounds contrived, despite work by some premium session players -- among them, bassist Pino Palladino (who's played with Paul Young, Richard Ashcroft, and Eric Clapton), the Time's guitarist Jesse Johnson, and sometime Pretender axeman Robbie McIntosh. Since the '80s, Stewart has been most at home with hard rock and ballads, but insecure on middle ground. His producers have let him pull his punches, marketing him as a safe balladeer with a rock frisson. That may be why the desultory reggae "If I Had You," complete with languid swing and deeply clichéd lyrics, seems both strenuous and showy. All Too Human might be a better tag for this effort, which was recorded on various continents, then cobbled together by Dickins. As it stands, Stewart's debut for a label synonymous with rhythm 'n' blues and soul in the '50s and '60s, and with hard rock in the '70s and '80s, seems a marriage of inconvenience -- not a new beginning.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

More by Carlo Wolff

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 17, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

Staff Pick Events

  • Jeff Blanchard @ Bogey's Comedy Club

    • Fri., Nov. 26
  • French Perspectives @ Severance Hall

    • Fri., Nov. 26
  • Christopher Titus @ Hilarities Comedy Club

    • Fri., Nov. 26

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation