Anyone who’s seen the video for this album’s lead single One More Time, which features a newly knighted Rod skipping up The Mall away from Buckingham Palace in a brocade jacket, knows that this is a man who, even as he approaches his seventy-seventh birthday, shows no sign of taking himself too seriously.
So while the impressive career stats – nine No.1 albums, 31 Top 10 singles, more than 200 million sales worldwide – demand respect, album number 31 comes with a generosity of spirit and jaunty self-awareness most perma-shaded superstars lost sight of decades ago.
As with 2018’s Blood Red Roses, Rod once again does most of the creative heavy lifting. He wrote seven of the 12 songs along with long-term writing partner Kevin Savigar, a member of his touring band since 1978, and his unique musical and lyrical DNA is evident throughout
His joy at being reacquainted with his muse is obvious right from lively opener One More Time. A Celtic-pop romp that nods to both Mandolin Wind and You’re In My Heart, it’s typically tongue-in-cheek, pop’s greatest Lothario pleading with an ex-lover to get back between the sheets over a tune so virally catchy it could have been cooked up in a Scandinavian hit laboratory.
All My Days is equally breezy, with Rod fantasising about retiring to Mexico, where ‘they’ll teach us how to chacha while drinking piña colada’, before things get interesting with Born To Boogie. A tribute to Marc Bolan complete with spidery T.Rex guitars, it’s a full-tilt glam stomp, Rod rasping out a heartfelt tribute to ‘an East End kid who became a rock’n’roll sensation'.
Viagra-boogie Kookooaramabama is equally potent, Rod delivering a sermon on the joy of sex, hollering ‘Try it in the kitchen when the kids are out/Spontaneous lust is what it’s all about’, still the perennial naughty schoolboy.
He’s always been a master interpreter of other people’s material, and further evidence comes with the title track, an atmospheric ballad in the Fairytale Of New York mould written by Marc Jordan (responsible for Vagabond Heart’s top five hit Rhythm Of My Heart).
Throw in a sentimental Hold On, a bagpipe-infused version of Johnny Cash’s These Are My People, and a tearjerking Touchline, a tribute to his father, and the result is everything you might want from an audience with Rod Stewart. The pipe and those tartan slippers can wait a while yet.