Surely the title is a bit of an allusion to the Past, Present and Future of its predecessor, but Modern Times also brought Al Stewart into the present, establishing his classic sound of folky narratives and Lennonesque melodies, all wrapped up in a lush, layered production from Alan Parsons. Hearing this production makes it clear that this is what was missing from Past, since it gives epics like the title track a real sense of grandeur that makes their sentiments resonate strongly. But it's not just the improvement in production that makes Modern Times the beginning of Stewart's classic period -- his songwriting has leapt up and met his ambitions, as it retains the historical sweep of his earlier material but melds it to a melodic sensibility that's alternately comforting and haunting. This skill is apparent throughout Modern Times, and is married to a sound that is its equivalent, making this an exquisite pop-prog gem.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine