Yusuf Islam has finally put out a (long-awaited) new album! What’s that? You have no idea who Yusuf Islam is? Well, as the subject of the review suggests, he is Cat Stevens – or rather, the man formerly known as Cat Stevens (though Yusuf Islam is certainly easy to get one’s tongue around than whatever it was that Prince renamed himself). After a nearly 30-year hiatus (his last album of new works was released in 1978), the man now known first as Steven Georgiou, then as Cat Stevens, and now as simply Yusuf Islam, has put out a new album. And the new album, while clearly inspired and influenced by Yusuf’s spiritual journey of the last three decades, sounds remarkably like, well, Cat Stevens.
As noted above, An Other Cup clearly bears the mark of Yusuf’s current religion-inspired life, with the liner notes, liner art, and a number of songs referencing topics and stories of spiritual nature. That said, though, many songs tread in familiar Cat Stevens territory, discussing dreams of the future, hope, and love (itself, of course, arguably a most spiritual, if not necessarily religious, of topics). Yusuf’s voice, too, is reminiscent of his works of thirty years past; indeed, it’s not hard to imagine that only a few short years, a typical album cycle, have passed since Tea for the Tillerman was released, so clear, strong, and let’s face it, beautiful, remain his voice.
Overall, Yusuf’s album – an album he feels he was called to make – is a generally strong return to where Cat Stevens left off nearly 30 years ago. If you were a fan then, you will likely be a fan now.