After putting out five albums in five years between 2002 and 2006, Rod Stewart took a relative eternity to craft his latest set of hit-tune covers. Listening to Soulbook, you may wonder where all that time went. Though he’s in fine, satisfyingly scratchy voice throughout, Stewart rarely brings anything new to these indelible R&B gems, especially when he duets with the original artists, as in a too-faithful rendition of ”Tracks of My Tears” with Smokey Robinson.
Following the multimillion selling Great American Songbook series of 1930s and 40s covers, it was inevitable that Rod Stewart would eventually turn his chops to soul classics. Soulbook heaves with potential: arguably the greatest white soul singer faced with the songs that first inspired him to sing. Alas, instead of a small, tight band and a focused, driven Rod the Mod, the project creaks with over-syrupy productions and seemingly phoned-in vocals.
ROD STEWART “Soulbook” (J) The British long ago made themselves curators of American R&B and soul as record collectors, disc jockeys and remake performers. Rod Stewart has been one of those remakers for decades. Since 2002 he has been releasing albums of tried-and-true songs: four “American Songbook” albums of Tin Pan Alley standards, a collection of rock oldies and now “Soulbook”: 1960s and ’70s hits from Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and Motown and Philadelphia International Records.