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Rod's Impotent Balladry

Rod Stewart - Human
1 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: June 4, 2001

By Tony Bonyata

On Rod Stewart's latest album, Human, the 56-year old British music veteran takes one step forward and two steps back. Although it seemed he was moving in the right direction on his 1998 release, When We Were The New Boys, an album which recaptured the gritty sound of his strongest work from the early '70s, Human sounds forced, over-produced and soulless.
Rod Stewart Obviously catering to an older, more sedate audience, the onetime cock-rocker now plays it safe with impotent ballads, middle-of-the-road R&B and non-threatening hip hop beats.
Stewart decided to take a back seat on the writing for this effort and instead focused on his vocal stylings. But despite that his voice is in top form, it doesn't seem to matter since the material is so lackluster.
Watered-down covers such as Curtis Mayfield's "It Was Love That We Needed" and "Smitten," which was written by Macy Gray specifically for Stewart, are both void of the original artist's soul, while ballads such as "Loveless" and "If I Had You," with its half-hearted reggae beat, soon become tedious and tiresome.
On the one title that suggests that it might spark - "Charlie Parker Loves Me" - the slick, sugary production immediately squelches any expectations of the avant garde jazz ramblings that Parker created. Even Guns and Roses' guitarist Slash can't help the title song from sounding like it's from a second rate Disney soundtrack.
The album picks up slightly on "Run Back Into Your Arms" and the gutsy "I Can't Deny It," which both sound a little closer to classic Rod than any of the contemporary adult fodder that clutters this effort, but unfortunately it's a little too little and a lot too late to save this album.
For a rock vocalist who's built a career on a testosterone-driven, cocksure swagger, it sure sounds like his new music could use a strong dose of Viagra.

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