those not aware of this fact, Yusuf Islam is the artist who was once known
as the world-renowned singer/songwriter Cat Stevens. The last recording
he made under that name was "Black Earth" which was released
in 1978. Since then he has changed his name, embraced religion, and dropped
out of the mainstream world of pop/rock that is until now. Over
a quarter of a century later comes a new recording from Yusuf entitled
"An Other Cup," a disc filled with memorable tunes that can
be viewed as a celebratory return to the spiritual folk/pop/rock of his
early work. Although he has released several Islamic recordings over the
past twenty-eight years, "An Other Cup," is truly a return to
the traditional sound that made him a dominant figure on the charts back
in the 1970s.
Does Yusuf sound like the Cat Stevens of old? The answer is a resounding
yes. His voice hasn't lost any of its depth or charm and the melodies
are still as inviting as those from his classic recordings. His new music
however, resides within a more spiritual environment, expounding on the
benefits that he has reaped from his conversion to Islam. Yet, despite
the deeply spiritual themes that are interwoven throughout the disc, he
manages to get his message across without becoming too preachy. Songs
like "Maybe There's a World," the mild rocker "Midday (Avoid
the City After Dark)," "In the End," and "Greenfields,
Golden Sands" are wonderful for their simplicity, spirituality, and
honesty. There's also a moving, string-enhanced cover of The Animals'
"Don't Let Me Be Understood," as Yusuf delivers a brooding and
introspective rendition far removed from the original version.
With the assistance of co-producer Rick Nowels, Yusuf has created a solid
collection of songs that are profound, beautifully written, and impeccably
produced. Long-time followers of Cat Stevens as well as those new to his
music will find this new recording pleasing, inspirational, and spiritually
enlightening. On his return to the mainstream, Yusuf was quoted as saying
"I feel right about making music and singing about life in this fragile
world again. It is important for me to help bridge the cultural gaps others
are sometimes frightened to cross."