Roadsinger

Roadsinger

4.2 15
by Cat Stevens
     
 

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Yusuf 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,

Overview

Yusuf 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. The album fits like a glove onto Stevens' former identity, with some songs as gloriously rich and beautiful as anything he's ever written. With its lithe string arrangement and guitar work by Yogi Lonich, the title track asks a central question: ."..Where do you go/When the world turns dark/And the light of the truth is blown out/And all the roads are blocked..." "Dream On" is a gauzy, small wonder of a track with a gorgeous saxophone part that stands as an accompaniment to the repetitive vocal. "All Kinds of Roses" is a hymn to tolerance despite one's own beliefs; its metaphors are artfully layered. The opener, "Welcome Home," feels like Stevens never exited the stage -- though we all know he did for nearly three decades -- with its strummed acoustic and that opening baritone offering ever so gently the lines "On the path, all seekers this way...carried down to the marketplace/No one knew my face/Then a stranger sang, with a voice like the wind/Then the hills began to sing, 'welcome in.'" "Shamsia," the disc closer, is a haunting piano and string instrumental dedicated to a young Afghan girl who defied the Taliban and attended school even though she was blinded as punishment. Even the cover, with its peace sign-bearing VW microbus standing in a square with Islam playing and singing under a street lamp, signifies that this is a return, and that the two paths he kept separate for so long, that of a pilgrim and that of an artist and traveling musician, have merged on one all-embracing road. Roadsinger is an utterly solid catalog entry under either his adopted spiritual name or his former one. Longtime fans will not be disappointed, and the rest of us should take note, too, because this kind of songcraft is seldom come by anymore. [The 2009 edition included a bonus CD.]

Product Details

Release Date:
06/23/2009
Label:
Hip-O Records
UPC:
0602527042657
catalogNumber:
001279401
Rank:
81294

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Yusuf (Cat Stevens)   Primary Artist,Organ,Synthesizer,Acoustic Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Electric Guitar,12-string Guitar,spanish guitar,Synthesizer Bass
Terry Sylvester   Background Vocals
Kenny Passarelli   Bass,Bass Guitar
David Angell   Violin
John Catchings   Cello
Mark Clark   Drums
David Davidson   Violin
Anthony LaMarchina   Cello
Chris McDonald   Trombone
Gunnar Nelson   Background Vocals
Chris Wilkinson   Viola
Monisa Angell   Viola
Jennifer Kummer   French Horn
Martin Terefe   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Piano,Bass Guitar,Electric Guitar
Michelle Branch   Background Vocals
Jimmy Bowland   Tenor Saxophone
Holly Williams   Background Vocals
James Morrison   Background Vocals
Kristoffer Sonne   Drums,Tambourine
Pete Adams   Piano,Wurlitzer
Will Simmons   Wind Chimes
Yogi Lonich   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Bottleneck Guitar
Gill Long   Tuba

Technical Credits

David Davidson   Arranger,String Arrangements
John Hanlon   Engineer
Yusuf (Cat Stevens)   Composer,Producer,Audio Production,Cover Art
Martin Terefe   Producer
Bobby Shin   Engineer
Dyre Gormsen   Engineer
Mark Aaron James   Cover Art
Iain Hill   Engineer
Ramzi Ammouri   Engineer

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Roadsinger 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
GSuttherman More than 1 year ago
I didnt even know Cat had a new album coming out. what a surprise it was for me to see it listed on the page a few days ago. Just got the record today. It is astonishingly great from beginning to end. In just over 30 minutes, like the old records used to be, Cat sings of Love, Hope, the pain of being abandoned and seeking of a better life in goodwill towards others. His acoustic playing is second to none. I can't pick a favorite, they are all classics to me. The instrumental final track is a beauty, like a theme song to a movie. And All Kind of Roses is a man laying bare his soul...Love it.
AnneNJ More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful collection of songs with thoughtful lyrics - Yusuf/Cat Stevens' voice is still warm and strong. This CD is worthy of a Grammy nomination.
Cassis More than 1 year ago
New Cat Stevens with an acknowledgement that time has passed but it's all good. Loved the one about choosing the road that you were supposed to. It's great for all ages - but especially those of us with things to look back on...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed the early Cat Stevens stuff and liked this too, though not quite as well. But its hard to compete with his early work and I haven't listened to this CD near as much, so over time it might grow on me more. Overall, I would buy this again with no hesitation.
schnauzermomCO More than 1 year ago
Well, I guess I shouldn't have expected it to be like the 70's. I used to love listening to Cat Stevens and was rather mystified when he went off the religious deep end. I've missed him all these years and was delighted to see him on the Colbert Report, singing once again. Although I knew he was still strongly religious, I thought he had come back to doing music for the masses. And while this album is certainly listenable and not extremely heavy as far as making religious statements, it's just a bit too much for me. I suppose if you like listening to christian rock you might like this, since it's not exactly muslim-specific in its references. But as an atheist, it's not my cup of tea. Sorry, Yusuf, I wish you well, but we're on divergent paths.
Anna55 More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best albums Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) has put out since Tea for the Tillerman! A fabulous creation and so good to hear that strong voice, profound story telling and great accoustical guitar again!!! I love every song on the album and I hope Yusuf continues to go down the familiar path that all of his old fans identify him with. This album gets raves from me!I can't stop listening to it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is as close to the 70's Cat Stevens as you will get. Excellent new effort!
BunkyDD More than 1 year ago
Being a Cat Stevens fan from my early days in high school, it was great to see him record again after nearly 30 years off the circuit. Besides the name change the music remains the same. If you are a true fan you must add this to your collection.
Christianexistentialist More than 1 year ago
Yusuf picks out thematic music from his past as Cat Stevens and answers in song. "Be What You Are" is an answer to "Sitting." CS fans will love this album for it tells of Yusuf's spiritual journey and shares the wisdom of a mature poet and shaman. Thank you Yusuf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ahhhhh the Cat Man is back. Yusuf, Cat Stevens, I have missed you. Thank you for a wonderful collection of beautiful music. You are a class all your own. LOVE "roadsinger"...my favorite since Mona Bode, Tillerman, Teaser...just thank you for the songs. Be you, be me in the end we'll be free ! LOVE & PEACE Carol in Tucson
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a terrible waste of money, time, effort, etc. All the tracks sound the same: dismal, depressed, hopeless, without a touch of humanity. Is Yusef suicidal or just trying to drive listeners to extreme measures? Is it possible to rate this 0 stars?