Yusuf Islam
An Other Cup


4.0
excellent

Review

by Tyler EMERITUS
April 9th, 2007 | 11 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, re-enters the singer-songwriter realm after a 30 year hiatus and reminds us all of why we love him.

Without that title: --- Romeo, doff thy name;
And for thy name, which is no part of thee,

He was born Steven Demetre Georgiou. In 1978, after converting to the Islamic faith, he changed his name to Yusuf Islam. In 2004, he was prevented from entering the US as his name had mistakenly been added to the no-fly list – it seems they had confused him with suspected terrorist Youssef Islam. So it would seem there's actually a lot more in a name than Billy Shakespeare would have you believe, but if it makes things easier, this album's packaging let's us know that you can still call him Cat Stevens.

The reason I'm presenting all of this is not to stall; I've started this review countless times over and am under no pressure to finish it. No, I'm bringing this up because first impressions are important, even if they're of an already established artist, and thus are not first impressions at all. Confusing I know, but you'll get it eventually. This is Yusuf Islam's (simply known as Yusuf on the cover) first pop album since the name change, but fear not, this is the same guy your parents/peers/grandparents fell in love with thirty years ago.

Yusuf hasn't missed a beat, as this is still the same sound he made famous on 70s staple "Tea for the Tillerman" and later perfected on "Teaser and the Firecat", and while it's certainly not as impactful, I'm comfortable saying that "An Other Cup" comes pretty close.

Yusuf relies, as always, on the piano and acoustic guitar, as well as his warm, soft voice, which has only become more effective with age. At its core, the music found on "An Other Cup" is relatively simple, but beneath the subdued singer-songwriter sound you'll find plenty of subtle nuances to keep things interesting. "Midday (Avoid City After Dark)" opens the album focusing almost entirely on Yusuf's voice, which lends itself to the production. The song tells the story of a man enraptured by a city's implicit beauty, but terrified of the night. Along with the traditional guitar/piano sound, the track employs tribal-esque drumming and, perhaps the most interesting of twists, horns. Perhaps the horns are supposed to exhibit the apparent contrast between day and night, quiet and loud, but probably not. I think it's what it sounds like –good.

Other stand-outs include the romantic "Heaven/Where True Love Goes", a song describing true love, and more specifically, how Yusuf follows his heart regardless of situation. As it says, "[he] goes where true love goes, [he] goes where true love goes". As the title implies, the track employs two specific themes, which interchange flawlessly; you'd be hard-pressed to actually notice when Yusuf shifts from describing an immaculate beauty programmed by the heaven's themselves to the way he lives his life.

"Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", Yusuf's interpretation of a song first made popular by Nina Simone over forty years ago, is probably the most important on the album. While it may not be the best, it's definitely the most necessary. In lieu of all the controversy –the fatwa, the name/faith change, that beard – Yusuf wants to make sure that people aren't getting the wrong idea. To do this, Yusuf enlists the help of strings, which, upon being paired with the piano and Yusuf's voice, make for a very heartfelt plea; one that sceptics will hopefully take to heart. As the lyrics once again state, "[he's] Well I'm just a soul whose intentions are good, oh lord, please don't let [him] be misunderstood".

It's not perfect by any means. Some songs can often be a little bit dull, perhaps even a little samey, and the album does seem to, at times, lack the power found in classic songs such as "Wild World". "Whispers from a Spiritual Garden" is, for lack of a nicer word, a useless interlude; a new-age romp complete with an awkward spoken word jaunt at the end. In the end, "Whispers From A Spiritual Garden" is barely two minutes in length, and besides these few minor faults, Yusuf reminds us of how he got to where he was, how he made it to a level where a simple change of faith could cause a backlash. He's been gone a while, but listening to this, it's a fact you'll have a hard time considering. Yusuf Islam is a genuine and talented songwriter, and while the album isn't without flaw, that's probably why it works. It is, after-all, a highly introspective album, laced with his beliefs (which does mean you will find some God talk on here), his ideas and of course his classic storytelling.

I think it's time the public welcomed him back with open arms, so I suppose I'll get the ball rolling.

Welcome back, whateveryournameis.



Recent reviews by this author
Masked Intruder Masked IntruderAtheist Jupiter
Aeon Path of FireAdam Haworth Stephens We Live on Cliffs
Autopsy The Tomb WithinOrbs Asleep Next to Science
user ratings (17)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
April 9th 2007


7927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I felt that since I was on a temporary hiatus that this would be a fitting "come back" review.

The Jungler
April 9th 2007


4826 Comments


Yeah, good review. I like Cat's voice a lot, but haven't listened to a lot of his stuff.

Tyler
Emeritus
April 9th 2007


7927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'd probably go for his two earlier albums to start, Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat. This is still pretty good though.

Two-Headed Boy
April 9th 2007


4527 Comments


I've heard bad things about this, and good. So, I'm in a neutral party for this one.

Kaleid
April 9th 2007


755 Comments


You were right to mention some songs are dull/samey; even his best suffered from that. But it seems from this review that, unlike Dylan, ol' Cat's sticking to the 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' mantra. Gotta love songs like Moonshadow and Where Do The Children Play.
I haven't got this yet; I will now

Tyler
Emeritus
April 9th 2007


7927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The only real difference with this is obviously his newfound spirituality finds it's way into some of the lyrics, but given the context, it's understandable.



He went soul-searching after a near-death experience, which is what led to his conversion to Islam. That's the main reason he's been so devoted to it's teachings; he fished around and he's 100% sure it's the belief system meant for him.



Most of the negativity surrounding this, at least from what I've read, seemed relatively unfounded. People were either complaining that it's just "Cat Stevens" 30 years later, while for most that'd be a positive, whereas you have the completely ignorant side claiming that he's some overtly violent extremist. That stems from the stigma surrounding Islam, and yet it somehow finds it's way into the criticisms of this album. It's sad, but that's a whole 'nother issue, I'd say.

Zebra
Moderator
April 9th 2007


2647 Comments


I've been listening to Tea for the Tillerman and The Teaser and the Firecat a lot lately. I don't care if he goes by "Yusuf Islam" now, I'll still check this out based on his previous work even if they don't share that many similarities.


Tyler
Emeritus
April 26th 2007


7927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You check this out yet Zebra?

Zebra
Moderator
April 26th 2007


2647 Comments


No
I still need to listen to other Cat Stevens albums before this one. After I listen to Catch Bull at Four a few more times then I'll probably download this. Once I listen to it I'll give feedback.

EDIT: After listening to this a few times I don't really like it that much. It's a lot more chilled out and calm then some of his earlier stuff, the songs just seem to drone on without any exciting climaxes. This Message Edited On 04.28.07

lanchege
June 5th 2007


64 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

He's still a great artist. This album can sort of drone on, but it's a really solid release.

Meatplow
November 16th 2009


5524 Comments


Interesting.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy