Rod Stewart, Blood Red Roses
(Decca Records) ★★★★✩
ROD STEWART is 73. Songs in which he plays the priapic lothario no longer suit him, which is probably why he now rarely portrays the romantic lead in his own songs.
‘Now I’m getting older and the girls are getting younger,’ he sings, wistfully, on this album’s closing ballad, Cold Old London. ‘Maybe it’s too late for me.’
Written with Kevin Savigar, Blood Red Roses is a collection of thoroughly age-appropriate songs from a retired Casanova.
Rest Of My Life, for example, is an uptempo Motown pastiche about marital bliss, while the disco belter Hole In My Heart is about a self-loathing slob (who ‘can’t even seem to boil an egg’) whose wife has left him for ‘some Russian guy’.
At its most effective, however, Stewart turns his wonderfully gravelly voice to the mournful and elegiac. The gospel-tinged Honey Gold is a funeral speech for an old female friend, and most moving is Farewell, a eulogy for an old 1960s buddy, filled with memories of two mods prowling Soho in skinny ties and mohair suits.
After a while of being wasted on pointless covers albums, Rod The Mod finally has his mojo and his dignity back — and, thankfully, he doesn’t have to play the libidinous Romeo any more.