Rod Stewart, "Another Country" (Capitol Records)
Rod Stewart's "Another Country" is stage two of his return to songwriting after a decade of Great American Songbook albums and the follow-up to 2013's successful "Time."
Don't be turned off by the uninspiring cover — there's plenty of passion inside, like the pair of songs inspired the lives and fates of soldiers, the title track and "Way Back Home." The latter features a Winston Churchill voiceover about never surrendering, just like Supertramp's "Fool's Overture" from 1977.
There's room for joyous Gaelic sounds despite some by-the-numbers melodies, featherweight reggae with "Love and Be Loved" and an enthusiastic, biting "Please," the kind of steady rocker Joe Cocker thrived on and, oh, right, so did Stewart back in the day.
On a lullaby dedicated to the youngest of his eight children, "Batman Superman Spiderman," Stewart contrasts today's superheroes with the "castles, kings and knights" of his own childhood stories, while the laid-back "Can We Stay Home Tonight?" sounds like an increasingly attractive proposal as time goes by.
On "The Drinking Song" Stewart shows no remorse for years (decades?) of the high life, because, after all, he can always blame the beverage.
Two non-originals close the album, of which "A Friend for Life" — a tender track by Steve Harley and Jim Cregan — provides ample proof of Stewart's interpretative skills.
The deluxe edition is worth the extra investment, especially for the groovy, Stax-like "One Night With You" and the original, late 60's version of "In A Broken Dream," a song Stewart first sang with Australian bank Python Lee Jackson and which was sampled recently by rapper A$AP Rocky.