Yusuf (f.k.a Cat Stevens) has spent much of the past decade crafting his new album King of a Land, and he’ll finally reveal it to the world on June 25. Ahead of the release, the artist shared the video for its lead single “Take The World Apart” on Wednesday.
“Looking at the jagged journey of my music, beginning as I did in the 60’s, I would say this new record is a mosaic,” Yusuf said in a statement. “A very clearly defined description of where I’ve been and who I am.”
He told Rolling Stone that peace is the driving idea behind the entire record. “Peace is my first stop and it’s my last stop,” said the singer-songwriter. “So many of my songs are illustrations of the search for a state or spiritual station where we can escape conflict. Peace is an all embracing state of existence, and it has outward and inward dimensions. Freedom from material needs brings some form of peace, however the inward state is not achieved by material stuff. The barometer of the inner-self is the heart. Many people call the lack of inner peace ‘mental stress’, whereas the origin of this ailment is a heart which has lost its spiritual home. I was lucky enough to have searched in the right place.”
King of a Land, which is Yusuf’s first collection of original songs since 2014’s Tell ‘Em I’m Gone, was produced by former Yardbirds bassist Paul Samwell-Smith. The bassist’s working relationship with the singer-songwriter goes back to 1970’s Mona Bone Jakon. Sessions began in 2011 at Berlin’s Hansa Studios, where David Bowie recorded “Heroes” and U2 cut Achtung Baby. Over the years, they moved to ICP Studios in Brussels, Belgium; La Fabrique in Provence, France; and to Yusuf’s home studio in Dubai. The new album was mixed at George Harrison’s former English estate, Friar Park.
“We were very privileged to be in Friar Park, and to be one of the first outsiders to enter that control room and mix an album,” Yusuf said.
“George Harrison has been an immense influence on me spiritually, from the very beginning. He pioneered certain thoughts and ideas, which stretched way east, and that was very important,” he continued. “If you listen to some of these songs on this album, you’ll hear a kind of spirit of George.” In February, Yusuf celebrated what would have been George Harrison’s 80th birthday with a cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road classic “Here Comes the Sun.”
Yusuf and Samwell-Smith assembled an impressive grouping of musicians for the upcoming record, including bassist Bruce Lunch, keyboard-player Peter Vettese, and drummer Russ Kunkel in addition to Yusuf’s longtime collaborators Kwame Yeboah and Eric Appapoulay.
On October 19, 2022 at the Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul, Turkey, Yusuf played his first public show since the pandemic started. On the album release date in June, he’ll play at England’s Glastonbury Festival. There are no other dates on the books, but a press release promises that this will be a “wave of celebratory activity” around King of a Land.
King of a Land Track List:
1. “Train on a Hill”
2. “King of a Land”
3. “Pagan Run”
4. “He is True”
5. “All Nights, All Days”
6. “Another Night in the Rain”
8. “Son of Mary”
10. “The Boy Who Knew How to Climb Walls”
11. “How Good it Feels”
12. “Take The World Apart”