Yusuf/Cat Stevens: Tell ’Em I’m Gone review – revealing Rick Rubin-produced reinvigoration

(Legacy)

Yusuf/Cat Stevens is a cumbersome moniker, but Tell ’Em I’m Gone, his first album in five years, is a convincing return to rock music. Co-producer Rick Rubin has again helped reinvigorate a veteran singer with well-chosen covers (including Procol Harum’s The Devil Came from Kansas and Jimmy Reed’s Big Boss Man) and teasing out some revealing original songs. Once the pure instrument that trilled Morning Has Broken, Stevens’ voice is a tad huskier, which suits this bluesy album, its rootsiness bolstered by guest stars Richard Thompson, Will Oldham and Tinariwen. Editing Floor Blues explores Stevens’ origins (“I was born in the West End in the summer of 48,” it begins), but only Dying to Live sounds like a song from his troubadour past. There are misfires – the po-faced I Was Raised in Babylon is hard to love – but Doors, in particular, is a peach: uplifting enough to accompany the closing credits of a Hollywood heartstring-tugger.

Contributor

Jon Dennis

The GuardianTramp

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