With a musical history going back as far as Maurice White’s hairline, it’s no surprise that, once again, Earth, Wind & Fire have brought forward a collection of tracks that demands a higher-level consciousness to fully enjoy. With the powerful single “Sign On” inviting us into the album, anyone who hasn’t immediately signed forty-five minutes of their life away to pure enjoyment can officially consider themselves spiritually void. Largely considered as a return to the Earth of old, Now, Then and Forever certainly finds itself well rooted in the foundation of funk, spirit of soul and design of disco.
It is impossible not to feel uplifted by something about Earth, Wind & Fire and during thirty-five years of production, a range of receptions has been inevitable. Yet, the question isn’t if you love this album, it is simply which part is most fulfilling. Now, Then and Forever, as the album title suggest, guides fans through the present, past and future of what Earth have always sought to deliver; positive vibrations, mass energy and, all in all, great music. From an upbeat 'My Promise' to the retro rhythm of 'The Rush', we’re transported from the fever of funk and R&B, only to find ourselves exiting the album down in the depths of jazz and soul. As ever, Earth, Wind & Fire channel each genre they discover, into a brilliantly blended ocean of sound.
Despite timelessness being a synonym for Earth, Wind & Fire, some things have undoubtedly changed. Since Maurice White (arguably the poster-boy for Earth, Wind & Fire) was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, EW&F have achieved a tough job in replicating what has been lost in his absence. The band, averaging the ripe age of 62-years-young, has released Now, Then and Forever (their 21st Studio Album) following a substantial eight-year gap since their last production. Yet, although Earth & Wind’s fire might be dwindling in the charts, this album is a testament to their on-going musical talent and dedication. After already achieving the BET lifetime achievement award, Earth, Wind & Fire’s continuous endeavours just go to show that, where rewards are concerned, the fulfilment of EW&F-music lovers is their most valued one.
With enough Earth, Wind & Fire material to last decades, it is a magnificent mystery as to how they create such magic every time. If nothing else will convince you to revel in this album, Philip Bailey’s high-note in “Guiding Lights” around the four-minute mark is worth every second and penny you will ever spend on this album, Now, Then and Forever.