As he celebrates 50 years as a solo artist, Rod Stewart gets the royal treatment on his latest album.
Enjoying the sophisticated accompaniment of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee adds his raspy, well-seasoned voice to a 15-track set delivered from an older and wiser perspective.
The lush orchestration gracefully breathes new life into a cornucopia of Stewart classics from the singer’s exceptional career.
My oldest brother was a huge Stewart fan back in the day. As a result, I grew up on early Stewart releases like “Gasoline Alley,” “Every Picture Tells a Story,” “Never a Dull Moment” and “Atlantic Crossing.”
After hearing “Maggie May” tenderly open the album, I knew I was in for a sentimental journey. On the album opener, the youthful confidence first delivered by Stewart back in 1971 is now replaced with a softer tone, signifying a self-reflective maturity that carries the song to a deeper emotional level.
One of my favorite arrangements on the album is a touching version of “I Was Only Joking,” originally released on 1977’s “Foot Loose & Fancy Free.” The melancholy number tugs at the heartstrings with its nostalgic look back at regrets and lost opportunities.
Other highlights include smashing renditions of “Reason to Believe” and “Handbags and Gladrags,” a heartfelt cover of Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately” and a dreamy version offered on “Sailing.”
The set also contains a duet with Robbie Williams on a charming reworking of “It Takes Two” and a brand new track, “Stop Loving Her Today,” that brings things to an emotional close.
True fans will want to pick up the deluxe edition that contains seven additional tracks, including a spirited offering of “Stay with Me” from Stewart’s days with the Faces.
The 74-year-old singer-songwriter still sounds terrific and demonstrates why he’s one of the best-selling music artists of all time on this perfect Christmas gift for the die-hard Stewart fan.
Clint Rhodes is the Herald-Standard music reviewer. He can be reached at email@example.com.