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(Cat Stevens) Yusuf An Other Cup Review

by Zane Ewton

Time and space must have paused for 30 years. Despite the name change, the former Cat Stevens returns to secular pop music with the same finely crafted, tuneful, and hopeful songs that took him to pop stardom so long ago.

Stevens wrote frequent hits up to his conversion to Islam in 1978. One album came out after his conversion followed by the newly minted Yusuf Islam retiring from the music business.

Very rarely Islam would record quiet albums like A is for Allah, an album that taught the basics of Islam, by using the Arabic alphabet, inspired for his children. In 2000, Yusuf made several appearances to promote the release of the remastered Cat Stevens albums.

A mere six years later An Other Cup is released as Yusuf is poised to return to pop music. Obviously pop music doesn't include the folky singer/songwriters of yesterday, but this is a classicist pop album. An Other Cup is a trademark folk/pop album that hearkens back to thoughtful lyrics and profound hooks.

Everything you have ever liked about Cat Stevens is intact within the more fulfilled and hopeful Yusuf Islam.

An Other Cup will hopefully quiet some of the radical misconceptions surrounding the man. While his lyrics can border on preachy at times, they are never overwhelming and are always goodhearted. The effortless air to the album makes it much more enjoyable as a good melody always accompanies the message.

Yusuf throws in a few curveballs to break up the sensitive singer/songwriter vibe. This includes adding jubilant horns on album opener "Midday (Avoid City After Dark)" and a symphonic cover of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood".

By playing to his strengths, Yusuf has written an enjoyable collection of songs that feel like the natural progression from his beloved hits.

An Other Cup is a natural, lovely record, devoid of all the trappings that ensnared the pop-charting Cat Stevens. It hints at a hopeful future, both spiritually and musically.

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