As teased to Billboard in October, the veteran's new set rocks
"Just a good, old-fashioned Rod Stewart album (with) a lot of mandolin and acoustic (guitar) and fiddles and good storytelling, I believe, too."
That was Rod Stewart describing his next album  to Billboard in October.
Following an industry preview Thursday night (March 7), Stewart's self-assessment seems on point.
The pop/rock icon releases "Time," his first collection of all-new material since 2001, on May 7. The set is his first on Capitol Records after he released "Merry Christmas, Baby" last holiday season on Verve. The yuletide album rose to No. 3 on the Billboard 200, marking his highest rank since 2006, and has sold 863,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It also generated his first Adult Contemporary No. 1 since 1993, "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow."
Stewart previously logged a 10-year run on the RCA Music Group, which yielded two Billboard 200 leaders among his series of covers albums. That run followed a more than two-decade tenure with Warner Bros., which produced some of his best-known AC staples, including "Forever Young," "Downtown Train" and "Have I Told You Lately." He arrived on Mercury with his first of four Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s, "Maggie May," in 1971.
Capitol previewed seven songs from the set for industry attendees at RdV in New York City on Thursday and Billboard's ears were perked. In opening comments, the label echoed Stewart's tease in the fall that the album is a personal collection, with him having written all its original songs. "An issue which I thought had long passed and which I'd given up, songwriting, has come back, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it."
While no track listing has been finalized, five of the seven songs played from "Time" last night sported an abundance of tempo and an overall guitar-based core sound. One was reminiscent of his 1988 No. 12 Hot 100 hit "Lost in You" from its opening riff; another brisk-paced cut was Celtic-influenced, evoking the instrumentation of "Maggie May"; a later track harkened back to such dance-leaning Stewart classics as "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" and "Infatuation," complete with a sultry sax solo by song's end. Of the two ballads, one sounded in line with Elton John's '70s-era compositions, while the other was more lushly produced, akin to many of Stewart's '80s/'90s AC hits.
At 68, and following his run of albums of remakes, Stewart rocks again. His inimitable warm vocals sound as strong as ever and the new set appears hook-heavy.
The themes on "Time" are "a little more adult now," according to Stewart. "There's no 'Hot Legs.' But they're, I think, songs people can relate to."
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