Sir Rod Stewart’s rekindled love of songwriting grows stronger on his 31st album, The Tears of Hercules. It’s Stewart’s fourth new album of original songs since 2013, when he reconnected with his songwriting muse to record Time, the chart-topping album which entered the Top 10 in the US and 10 countries worldwide, including #1 in the U.K., where it’s been certified platinum double-platinum. For his latest, Stewart wrote nine of the album’s 12 songs, including the first single, “One More Time.” Now that the full album is here, is it any good? Read on for my thoughts.
To make The Tears of Hercules, Stewart once again worked with Kevin Savigar, the keyboardist-songwriter-composer who has co-produced Stewart’s last three studio albums: Time (2013), Another Country (2015), and Blood Red Roses (2018). Their long-running collaboration began in 1978 when Stewart invited Savigar to join his studio and touring band. In addition to “One More Time,” they also co-wrote the standout tracks “Hold On” and “All My Days.” Stewart co-wrote “Born To Boogie (A Tribute To Mark Bolan)” with Emerson Swinford, the guitarist in his band. Stewart, Savigar, and Swinford share songwriting credit on “I Can’t Imagine.” Additional covers on the LP include Stewart’s joyful take on Soul Brother Six’s “Some Kind Of Wonderful,” and his stirring rendition of Johnny Cash’s “These Are My People.”
“I’ve never said this before about any previous efforts, but I believe this is by far my best album in many a year,” said Rod Stewart.
I think The Tears of Hercules is a wonderful album. The material is fresh yet familiar, with many upbeat, joyful songs, as well as poignant ballads. My three favorite songs include the following: “One More Time,” “I Can’t Imagine,” and “The Tears of Hercules.” The lead single, “One More Time” is classic Rod Stewart, with that warm voice we all love and a foot-stomping, hand-clapping arrangement is as infectious as can be. A beautiful album opener that sets the tone perfectly. “I Can’t Imagine” is such a tremendous song, despite its simplicity. Seriously, the chorus for this song is “I can’t imagine waking with anybody else but you.” That’s it! But the way it’s sung, the complexity of the verses that flank it, and the lovely arrangement — featuring horns, harmonies, guitar, tambourine, and a key change — makes this an all-time classic. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, the title track, “The Tears of Hercules” plays, and it’s one of the greatest ballads ever. The vocal delivery and minimalist production makes for a profound listening experience, replete with with that descriptive, emotional storytelling that makes Rod Stewart a one-of-a-kind artist. Simply magnificent!
The Tears of Hercules is a phenomenal album.