Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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STEVIE WONDER
A Time to Love
Motown

A Motown original, working on his own schedule, comes back softer than ever

A full decade after his last album, the once unstaunchable font of song turns out to be, who woulda thunk it, an unstaunchable font of song. Maybe he can't control himself--or maybe he works his ass off and won't stop till he knows he's got a good one. He begins with "If Your Love Cannot Be Moved," which targets all those who say they follow Jesus's teachings: "You can't free the slaves to enslave them differently," and other such proverbs. After that comes the time for love songs, which are cornier than ever. But corny love songs are the stuff of pop, and Wonder has a genius for the kind of emotional openness that Coldplay, to choose a random instance, find faintly embarrassing. He returns to the message material at the end, refreshed as if from an excellent orgasm, although the nine-minute title finale does overtax him just a tad.

Blender, Dec. 2005