Review : Yusuf - Roadsinger (To Warm You Through The Night)
BillboardWhile Yusuf (formerly known as Cat Stevens) officially returned to the pop world in 2006 with the welcomed "An Other Cup," his re-entry has only now been fully realized with the thoroughly engaging "roadsinger (To Warm You Through the Night)." The 11-tune collection marks Yusuf's harking back to his "Tea for the Tillerman"/"Teaser" vein of reflective spiritual quest in a musical setting that is largely acoustic and intimate, recorded live with minimal overdubs. His jangly acoustic guitar rhythms buoy the times-roll-on leadoff track "Welcome Home," and he quotes the piano open of "Sitting" (from 1972's "Catch Bull at Four") on his catchy "Be What You Must," a tune about the wisdom of seeking a fulfilled life. While Yusuf probes the dark throughout (most poignantly on the string-turbulent "Rain"), the underlining buoyancy of "roadsinger" is his troubadour spirit embodied in a confident faith that provides the light....full text
AllmusicYusuf Islam's (formerly Cat Stevens) previous recording, 2006's An Other Cup was a mostly enjoyable lighter weight -- and yes, sometimes preachy -- extension of the latter albums in his previous incarnation. An Other Cup captured the more stretched melodic frames of albums such as Foreigner, Buddha and the Chocolate Box, and even Back to Earth. The compositional sense here, on the far more satisfying Roadsinger, is much more direct, laid-back, earthy, and yet elegant. And while it definitely points forward, Roadsinger looks back to excellent recordings such as Catch Bull at Four and Teaser and the Firecat: on the intro to "Be What You Must" he even quotes "Sitting"! The voice here is immediately recognizable as that of the man who gave us so many beautiful, direct songs about living, searching, observing, and waiting. It has been deepened a bit by age, but somehow that adds to its quality. Certainly most, if not quite all, of these songs deal with spiritual themes, and yes, they discuss how one can be happy and whole by embracing a spiritual way of life, but the manner in which they do so is gentle, more attraction that promotion, and the compositions themselves stand up to the past while furthering a musical vision that is at the heart of who this artist always was. The songs are low intensity, mostly hummable, and always rooted in the strumming or fingerpicking of an acoustic guitar even as strings, electric guitars, wispy percussion, and sometimes horns wind their way in without digging as deeply into the pop conscious productions of An Other Cup. The set was co-produced with Martin Terefe who has also worked with Martha Wainwright and James Morrison....full text
GuardianThe man born Steven Georgiou sounds here more like his old showbiz self, Cat Stevens. The vocal pipes are rustier, but the twisting melodies and earnest vocals are cut from the same mould as Tea For the Tillerman. To confirm a sense of a circle completed comes a 1974 song, The Rain, that melds easily into a well-produced mix, rich in guitars, discreet strings and the occasional sax toot. It's all a long stride on from the hesitant return of 2006.
But if you're hoping for romantic, joyous 1970s Cat, forget it. Instead, we are obliged to trudge through heavy-handed allegories in which the humble pilgrim Yusuf is on the road, beset by stern guards, while the world about him rumbles into menacing darkness – that word is everywhere – against which the frail light of faith falteringly holds. Moments of delight, such as Thinking About You, are few, though Boots and Sand, about Yusuf being refused entry to the US, labours hard to inject levity....full text
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