Music » CD Reviews

Rod Stewart

It Had to Be You . . . The Great American Songbook (J Records)

by

comment
It may comfort some that Rod Stewart has a new home with Clive Davis, the legendary record mogul behind J Records. Davis's impressive track record -- he's responsible for hits by everyone from Aretha to Aerosmith to Alicia Keys -- suggests Stewart may score this time out. The songwriting is impeccable, spanning Kern, Gershwin, and more contemporary tunes. The production is top-shelf, too.

But Rod is no longer the Mod or even the Bod, and this album is less reinvention than brand extension. Stewart's last album for the Warner Bros. family, Human, an anemic stab at soul he released on Atlantic last year, was a stinker; its was the sound of slumming and desperation. It Had to Be You is better, if only because the songwriting is superior, risk-free, and demographically unassailable.

Backed by smooth jazzer Dave Koz and the more versatile Michael Brecker on saxes, Stewart treats 14 chestnuts with ease, if not authority. "These Foolish Things" is pretty cool, and "Every Time We Say Goodbye" spoons out well-mannered rue, but the album is rarely more than soothing and, contrary to entertainment-business gush, is not a breakthrough. It's been years since Stewart made a record with personality and passion; he's been too busy being a celebrity. Here, Stewart is making a foray into Tony Bennett's territory, but he gets stuck in Barry Manilow's foothills.

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.