Yusuf/Cat Stevens is one heck of a monicker to get their head around for anyone. Changing his name after converting to Islam many years ago, Yusuf still needs to remind us that he once was Cat Stevens, the popular 70s troubadour.
His first album in five years, Tell ‘Em I’m Gone, is a mix of covers and originals with guitarist Richard Thompson bringing authenticity to the album. Featuring the harmonica work of legendary Charlie Musselwhite, it is a pleasant album for both new and old fans. Over the years his voice has grown more husky and for this bluesy album it works really well. It’s not as whimsical like when it was during his ‘Moonshadow’ years and it suits the feel of the album really well.
Tear jerker ‘Dying to Live’ is the highlight; sung with such simplicity that it touches a nerve, reminding us all of our mortality. For much of the album, Yusuf echoes the ideal that he is the original 70s rebel. ‘The Devil Came From Kansas’ and ‘Editing Floor Blues’ are both tracks where Yusuf is clearly the protagonist sending his message to listeners. ‘You Are My Sunshine’ is a clever re-working of a song that had always been a very cheesy song. Yusuf takes it an breathes new life into it making it sound like a blues classic, and it is genius.
Title track ‘Tell ‘Em I’m Gone’ rolls along nicely as an enjoyable addition. Closing the album with the reflective ‘Doors’, Yusuf has compiled a well rounded blues album. It may not appeal to his original fans from his ‘Wild World’ and ‘Father and Son’ days, but it is a pleasant album all the same.
Reviewer: Amanda Starkey