As tipped here last month, Yusuf / Cat Stevens will release a new studio album, his 17th, this summer as part of newly signed deal with the George Harrison-founded Dark Horse Records. King of a Land is due June 16 and is led by the track “Take the World Apart,” an animated video for which is out today (March 15) from longtime collaborator Peter Reynolds. Reynolds also created illustrations for each of the album’s 12 tracks.
Work on King of a Land began in 2011 at Hansa Studios in Berlin, where David Bowie recorded “Heroes” and U2 tracked Achtung Baby. Additional sessions took place in Brussels, Provence in the south of France, London, and Yusuf’d home studio in Dubai. “Most of the songs started with me playing and recording everything at home in the garage — it’s as close as you can get to being inside my head,” the artist says.
The album was produced by another longtime collaborator, Paul Samwell-Smith, who has worked with Yusuf since 1970’s Mona Bone Jakon. Musical contributors include bassist Bruce Lynch, who played on Yusuf’s 1974 album Buddha and the Chocolate Box, legendary session drummer Russ Kunkel (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Carole King), and regular band members Kwame Yeboah and Eric Appapoulay.
Cementing Yusuf’s connection to the late Harrison, King of a Land was mixed at the Beatles great’s private studio at Friar Park, his estate in Henley-on-Thames, U.K. “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 says. “If you listen to some of these songs on this album, you’ll hear a kind of spirit of George.”
Yusuf crowned his Dark Horse deal last month with a cover of the Harrison-penned Beatles classic “Here Comes the Sun.” He will also perform in the Sunday afternoon “legend” slot at the U.K.’s Glastonbury Festival on June 25, five weeks ahead of his 75th birthday.
After a decade of hit albums established him as one of the ’70s preeminent singer/songwriters, Stevens walked away from music in 1978, converted to Islam and changed his name, and did not regularly record or perform in his prior style until the early 2000s. Since then, he has been active in the studio and on the road, with his most recent release comprising a 2020 reimagining of his beloved 1970 album Tea for the Tillerman.
Here is the track list for King of a Land:
“Train on a Hill”
“King of a Land”
“He Is True”
“All Nights, All Days”
“Another Night in the Rain”
“Son of Mary”
“The Boy Who Knew How To Climb Walls”
“How Good It Feels”
“Take The World Apart”