Friday, April 29, 2011
Y IS FOR YUSUF “AN OTHER CUP”
As one of the most popular singer-songwriters of the 1970s, Cat Stevens achieved fame with a series of wistful, tuneful albums. His contribution to the cult film Harold and Maude, and hit singles such as "Wild World," "Morning Has Broken," and "Peace Train" helped make Stevens a household name. By the end of the decade he'd rejected both his given name and pop-star moniker, dropped out of pop music and converted to the Muslim faith, calling himself Yusuf Islam.
Yusuf Islam’s appearances in the press for many years were restricted to various controversies relating to his religion. He had been recording material throughout his apparent silence – music with Muslim themes which he felt was in accordance with the teachings of his faith. However, by the new millennium he was encouraged from within the Muslim world to relax his personal restrictions, and eventually he saw fit to release a long-awaited album of new material.
An Other Cup is that album, and in many ways it picks up where Back To Earth left off, some three decades before.
The tender voice is the same, as is the style, and it is as if the muse had never left. Always one to dip into spiritual themes, Yusuf remains masterfully adept at blurring distinctions between the spiritual and romantic while evoking idealism. Fans of his vintage catalog will find intriguing riches outside the more spiritually focused works, and will enjoy the production that leans towards the spare and shrewdly contemporary while being reminiscent of the classic Cat Stevens sound.
Considering the length of time between albums, it's a remarkably strong effort, and surprisingly, one that's comfortably familiar.
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