Hippo Manchester
October 27, 2005

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Stevie Wonder

A Time to Love

***

Yeah, yeah ... Steve Wonder is a musical genius, beloved by millions. His new album is showered with Grammy Awards.

But does it have to be so ... soft? Why is it pap? Why does it make me think of a really bad 1980s chick flick with no black people in it? What happened to the funky Stevie Wonder of “Superstition”? What happened to the raw joy of Little Stevie Wonder? Is the rest of his career to be made up of flaccid pop hits in the key of “I Just Called to Say I Love You”?

Sure, “Called” was Wonder’s biggest- selling single but it’s awful. John Tesh awful. Kenny Loggins awful. Elevator music awful. Awful, awful — the recording he made of Rudy during his guest appearance on the Cosby Show had more edge.

Most of A Time to Love is like this, with the possible exceptions of the slightly funky “If Your Love Cannot Be Moved,” the somewhat jazzy “Moon Blue,” the hip-hop tinted “Positivity” and “So What the Fuss?,” in which they try to make you think he’ll sing “What the f—k?” but finish the word with a long “ssssssss” sound.

A Time to Love is going to sell a lot of albums. Fans of ’80s-era Stevie Wonder will love it. Critics will hate it. I had to listen to Wonder’s late-’70’s masterpiece, Songs in the Key of Life, to get my testosterone levels back to normal and my heart beating again.

— Robert Greene