Yusuf / Cat Stevens: King of a Land (BMG) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, December 7th, 2023  

Yusuf / Cat Stevens

King of a Land


Jul 11, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

For the greater part of 50 years, Yusuf / Cat Stevens has been an inspiration, spreading his gospel of peace, love, and joy in albums from Matthew & Son in 1967, the classic Tea for the Tillerman in 1971 (he reprised the album, recording a new version in 2020), and his last album of new material, The Laughing Apple, in 2017.

And while Yusuf/Stevens has not always sung specifically about his religious faith, King of a Land finds him addressing this topic almost exclusively. To further drive home his point, the album itself is presented in exquisite packaging that pairs his song lyrics with the beautiful child-focused illustrations of Peter H. Reynolds, who also created the cover art.

“Son of Mary” retells the Christ tale alongside delicate synths and keyboards. “Ragan Run” finds Yusuf singing about taking a wrong path before being led back to peace and solace in God. And with “King of a Land,” Yusuf sings about peace, love, and the recognition of a higher power, sung in his inimitably beautiful timbre to wonderful tuba-accented backing.

Elsewhere, “Another Night in the Rain” is an uplifting track about solitude, acceptance, and simple living, and “Highness” deals with the existence of an almighty power buttressed by choral backing and lush orchestration.

Throughout the album, Yusuf, who will turn 75 years old this month, is in wonderful voice. He leaves, however, his most affecting performances for the album’s end. “How Good It Feels” is a sweeping orchestral track that begins sparsely with Yusuf lamenting his knowledge of the worldly hardships that come with life and age, before revealing their paleness in comparison to being spiritually found.

And finally, the album ends with “Take the World Apart,” a jaunty sing-song track that faithfully recalls Cat Stevens’ most widely acclaimed ‘70s work, ending with a smile and the words, “I’ll take the world apart, to find a place for a peaceful heart. I know I’ve got to find it, although I’ll break down the Walls of China, I will.” With a smile on every face and joy in every heart. (www.catstevens.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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