Sound — 7
Earth, Wind & Fire have never been afraid to journey musically to a wide range of genres and embrace new creative influences. Throughout their career which spans over four decades, Earth, Wind & Fire have experimented with R&B, soul, funk, disco, jazz and rock, and in the process of doing so created over twenty studio albums, over half a dozen Top 10 singles and a vast number of songs which are now heavily circulated classic rock radio hits. A few of their most familiar songs include "Shining Star," "Boogie Wonderland," "That's the Way of the World" and "Fantasy." The group already leaves behind a strong legacy, with their music having influenced a large number of well known artists from almost every music genre, from Phil Collins to Lenny Kravitz, to will.I.am and The All-American Rejects. They certainly have nothing left to prove, and could easily retire now as so many other bands who reach their senior years do. Or EWF could simply continue to tour off of their greatest hits and play their most beloved songs to audiences of thousands. However, the members of Earth, Wind & Fire clearly think otherwise, and recently sat down in the studio to record their newly released studio album, titled "Now, Then & Forever." This album is the band's first in over eight years, however as I stated before EWF have nothing left to prove and didn't need to release any new material in the first place. What we have here is an album of ten new songs filled to the brim with nostalgic elements, familiar group harmonies and a wave pool of varying influences. Any fan of the group's earlier outings will have no problem in easily appreciating this new album, especially with songs such as "My Promise." Comprised of bold brass playing and a foot tapping funk groove, there is very little that distinguishes this new material from Earth, Wind & Fire's earlier hits.
Lyrics — 7
The vocal section of Earth, Wind & Fire is still very much intact after all these years. Their signature vocal harmonies are one of the most defining features about this band, and there is always some concern when it comes to group members who are up there in age attempting to hit the same high notes they first did four decades ago. But any doubts you may have about this group are immediately washed away upon first inserting the new CD into your car's stereo.
Overall Impression — 7
Earth, Wind & Fire give an impressive return-to-form with their new studio album, "Now, Then & Forever." You will find yourself giving the occasional double take when listening to this record, as it literally sounds as though this album has been sitting in storage for the past twenty years and has just now been released to the general public. It easily could be, because there is nothing that sets this album apart from such classics as "Open Our Eyes" and "Gratitude." The fact of the matter is, if you are a fan of Earth, Wind & Fire's earlier material, you will easily be able to crank this one up to ten.