Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
History might be considered to allow the winner to pick its paragraphs and choice of wording when accepting the fate of its work. History may feel exclusive but under the cover of almost the almost progressive tease, sometimes it takes the artist down a road they have once travelled and asks them to re-write, to revise their thinking and to see with age, if history has perhaps judges them the same way.
History has perhaps not looked upon some artists and poetic musicians with the same keen eye as they once did, the glaze of introspection after a 50 year period always forgets the details in which a piece of work first entered the world, breathing life into the medium.
For the artist Yusuf/Cat Stevens, the long hard stare imagined is actually as soft and as beautiful as the voice that has always intrigued and beguiled fans and inspired others to look at the art as more than just instruments and words caught down on history’s winning page. It is to feel the love that the man hears and speaks and as the notes of the past soar, then so too does The Laughing Apple, for without this reflection, without the ability to understand the artist’s past, how can you ever think that it is possible to hear the words of softly spoken love.
The last 50 years have been one of change for Yusuf, perhaps more so than many other British recording artists with the exception of the late and much missed David Bowie and John Lennon. What has not changed is the man’s ability to create imagery from the feather like touch of his fingers, the silk weaved through his guitar and the penetration of his agile and clear mind.
The Laughing Apple is an astonishing reimagining of history of certain sections of his early work but also it adds one great thought, that the Tillerman, that representation of the artist in another guise has grown, has become the man able to look back and stamp his own life’s orchard and watch the fruit bloom.
With songs such as See What Love Did To Me, the superb Grandsons, Northern Wind and I’m So Sleepy all leaving their huge mark in the man and the listener, The Laughing Apple is again a justification for all that sense of achievement that went before and the honour of the authentic artist that lives genuinely in the world and history’s chapter.
Once more Yusuf is the sound of the beautiful voice carried forth and one that illustrates perfectly how history can be positive.
Ian D. Hall