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Ann Powers on Adam Lambert's 'Time for Miracles': His triumphant return begins

October 19, 2009 | 11:22 am
On our sister blog Idol Tracker, The Times' Ann Powers discusses the latest single from "American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert. She finds it "a lonely declaration of faith in the healing power of love." Read an excerpt below:


Power ballads exist to climax. I use that final word, in all its lascivious glory, for the obvious reasons. Created to accommodate "soft" emotion in hard rockers, these flash-pot-fueled show-stoppers have to be as uncontainable as juvenile delinquent rock itself, and from "Dream On" onward that's meant one thing: an explosive ending in which the band, and especially the singer, pump blood into the vulnerability they've expressed by pushing themselves into unstoppable overdrive, straining at the song's seams, and finally breaking through with a swoon that obliterates everything else.

You think I exaggerate? Listen to "Time for Miracles," the single that begins this fall's triumphant ascent of "American Idol" finalist and hard rock liberator Adam Lambert with a swoosh and bang that does Freddie and Steven (and Ann and Jon and Axl) proud.

The song itself is surprisingly unoperatic, though its back story is straight out of "La Boheme." Co-written by Los Angeles rock power couple Alain Johannes and Natasha Shneider, it's a lonely declaration of faith in the healing power of love -- a message made tragic by the fact that Shneider died of cancer in 2008.

Lambert communicates this context through a world-weary approach in the early part of the song, including a nice, depressive blue note in the middle of the first verse and a vocal crack a few phrases later. There's not much drama for him to milk here -- no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise, just an aching heart and some deeply familiar romantic imagery. Lambert works his way through the undying flames by keeping it conversational, adding a slightly soulful twist as the strings swirl behind him.

Then, three minutes in, Lambert's melismatic growl signals that the summit's within sight.

Read the rest on Idol Tracker.

-- Ann Powers

Photo: Adam Lambert. Credit: Irfan Khan / For The Times