The best way to approach this album is to look at it as a new soul album, rather than an Earth, Wind And Fire album, and not to compare it to their previous work.
With that in mind, I've really enjoyed it as the songs are catchy, upbeat and thankfully not too overproduced like most of today's music.
The first few tracks are all memorable, in fact it's a shame they don't come in extended form as they seem a bit too short.
Sure it's missing Maurice White's distinctive vocals, and is never gonna be up there with the giddy heights of 'I Am', but compared to everything else around at the moment it's a joy for the ears.
Inexplicably my copy has 6 classic tracks on it, such as 'Boogie Wonderland' and 'Let's Groove' which whilst nice to have, kinda reinforces how Maurice White's presence is missing. Would have preferred some extended versions of the new songs.
Earth, Wind & Fire has been around since I was a child and started listening to music - and they've never ever disappointed me. Still haven't with this release. They show that they're still a really fantastic band with truly great music! Big love to one of the worlds' greatest vocalists ever; Philip Bailey, who has such a beautiful voice with an out of this world range and simply all you can ever wich for. <3
O.K. now i'm a die hard EWF fan of nearly 40 years, and to me they have always been the most signifacant band in black music. Since the mid 80s (let's say after the 'Powerlight' album)their music has been less inspiring than it was in the mid to late 70s. After the band started to split up with first Al McKay then Larry Dunn leaving,(two very important members) the sound started to lose it's edge. Sure it was still EWF but not firing on all cylinders. The Phenix Horns went to work with Phil Collins and never came back. Apart from a couple of tracks he had them on i still don't know what he did with them. I'll never forgive him for that. Then Maurice White (The Main Man)started to take less of a role due to his illness, things were just not the same. The last three or four albums the band have put out have been good in parts but no where near the high standards they had set themselves. So onto the new album. 2 years in the making and apparentley back to their basic best. Up first was 'Guiding Lights', which came out as a single over a year ago now and indeed was a return to that hey day sound. Nice mid tempo groove and the return of Larry Dunn, who's keys are instantly recognisable. This can only be good for the album me thinks. The new single 'My Promise' is a nice happy uptempo tune. Nice harmonies and a good horn section (not exactly Phenix style) but it will do. Happy so far. 'Sign On' is getting a lot of attention on soul radio and rightly so. Could have easily been the lead single. Yeah! a really good uptempo track. The pace drops for 'Love Is Law' and we find Mr. Bailey in fine form. All the ingrediants are there on this one. 'Got To Be Love' again keeps the tempo down and is another good track, although i still have trouble with not hearing Maurice's baritone. No disrespect to Philip Bailey. 'Belo Horizonte' is a cool little Brazilian jazzy instrumental interlude, again harking back to those glory days. 'Dance Floor is next and is a big dance tune. Almost sounds as if it could have been on the 'Faces' album. The chorus reminds me of heatwave a bit. Verdine plays some serious bass on this one. Back to their jazz roots again for 'Splashes'. Mostly instrumental with some nice trumpet solos. 'Night of my Life' is next and is the one track i can't get into. To rocky almost eurobeat sounding. Lastly it.s 'The Rush' and the albums back on track again. Opening with the Kalimba and vocals remanisant of 'Burnin Bush', this is true EWF sounding. All'n'all (no punn intended) this is a good album. Philip (Bailey), Verdine (White)and Ralph (Johnson) should be proud of this work. It's a real return to form and has that trademark EWF feel that we fans have come to expect. On Saturday the 19th of October 2013 i attended the Royal Albert Hall to see these guys. They ripped it up to a packed house who absolutely loved the show. I got to say they were in fine form and Philip Bailey was outstanding. They did four tracks from the new album and none of them felt out of place with all of the hits from over the years. Infact the new tracks sounded so good that they made me realise just how good this new album is. Truly inspiring as they were the first time i saw them in 1979. May Earth Wind and Fire reign supreme for ever. Keeping the Faith...