The result of a musical genius at his creative peak, "Songs In The Key Of Life" is a sprawling masterpiece, and Stevie Wonder's magnum opus. However, no grand words or superlatives can really do this album justice... the songs speak for themselves.
For an album of such stature and brilliance, there are surprisingly few 'famous' tracks. Of these, 'Sir Duke', 'I Wish' and 'Isn't She Lovely' are the most well-known, but merely represent the songs that were released as singles and hence into the mainstream. In reality, this album is far wider in scope than these three songs only hint at.
Stevie Wonder explores his creative and musical limits here, and executes his ideas with considerable aplomb. Quite frankly, there is not a bad song on the entire album, and there are simply too many highlights to single out for distinction. Suffice it to say that there is an example (and a good one at that) of every facet of Stevie's musical ability here.
But it's not just the music and vocal acrobatics that are outstanding, but also the lyrical content of the songs. Stevie Wonder has often been labelled, somewhat unfairly, as being too sentimental. However, this album represents a hugely powerful retort to his critics, with some really meaningful lyrics. Tackling issues such as race relations ('Pastime Paradise' and 'Black Man') to social deprivation ('Village Ghetto Land') and depression/suicide ('Have A Talk With God'), these are not lightweight, throw-away pop tunes by any stretch of the imagination. But the real skill in his songwriting ability lies in the way that you are always left with a feeling of hope from his songs. Maintaining a positive attitude throughout, without pandering to the over-sentimental (most of the time), "Songs In The Key Of Life" is an uplifting and beautiful collection of songs worthy of a special place in any record collection.