‘I always think I make albums for a few friends and this record has that intimacy, I hope,’ Sir Rod Stewart says of his 30th solo studio album, Blood Red Roses. ‘Sincerity and honesty go a long way in life and the same is true in song-writing.’ This deeply personal collection of recently-written Stewart originals, with the added bonus of three superb new covers, is simply peak Rod. Blood Red Roses is a great bunch of songs presented, with a winning flourish, in Stewart’s unmistakable style. Love, loss, longing, and addiction are all examined in Stewart’s enviable everyman manner, tempered with a master-craftsman’s attention to nuance and detail. The universally-loved voice, tough and tender in equal measure, is in superb shape. James Brown’s claim that Rod Stewart is the world’s ‘best white soul singer’ still stands.