Friday, September 22, 2017


Although the outside of the cover says Yusuf and makes no mention of Cat, inside the booklet he's Yusuf/Cat Stevens, and there's even more that's familiar. The album's story is introduced as one told by the Tillerman to Teaser and the Firecat in a series of drawings, just the way he used to do them back in the '70's. Also returning are his producer from the glory days, Paul Samwell-Smith, and his guitar foil, Alun Davies. And the real clincher is the fact this sounds just like he used to make them, that incredibly warm, soothing voice, the gentle acoustic touches, and the childlike joy with which each song is offered, from the drawings to the many references to youth and discovery.

There's even an old Stevens song that first appeared on his best-of's in the '90's, I've Got A Thing About Seeing My Grandson Grow Old, now rewritten with new verses, and called Grandsons. Sometimes the lyrics are simple and touching, such as I'm So Sleepy, or the rewritten Mary and the Little Lamb, while elsewhere there are those pearls of wisdom that have soothed us before, and we have sung to our own children over the years. "I was a strong man/strong as can be/come back and see what love did to me," he sings. There might not be as many clear, special lyrics as when he was giving us gems such as Moodshadow, Peace Train and Wild World, but they aren't far away, and the beautiful melodies and arrangements are just as powerful. Of the four albums he has made since his return to secular music, this is the one closest to those beloved '70's ones.

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