January 4, 2007

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Yusuf, An Other Cup
Atlantic/Wea, 2006

Here’s the thing with the new Cat Stevens album: did he do it for money to blow on Birkenstocks, did he do it because he’s tired of chicks in burkas or was it just to ensure that he was never again wrongly detained as a suspected Taliban? And what would happen if he and Muhammad Ali and Hakeem Olajuwon took the same flight nowadays? You might wonder if the security guy made him sing a few bars of “Morning Has Broken” and if Cat, ah, Yusuf was still able to sound like Burl Ives’ grandfather, but he can, see, thus An Other Cup captures the same Cat-voice that was last heard when Jaws was the must-see hit of the summer. “Midday (Avoid City After Dark)” (police, take note of the sloppy English in that title) kicks things off with some greasy trumpets, so perhaps even ’70s-megastars-gone-Muslim appreciate good tequila, who knows. “Heaven/Where True Love Goes” opens with a swooning acoustic guitar part over which Stevens plants a General Hospital-montage lovey-dovey hook, but he quickly dates himself with elevator-ready orchestration right out of Saturday Night Fever. He regains his (relative) senses in “Whispers From a Spiritual Garden” via zen-babblings spoken over a New Age flute-and-plinky-guitar tempeh salad. B- Eric W. Seager