Why I am singing again: Yusuf Islam
Now there is a new "secular" album, An Other Cup. Give or take the occasional Eastern influence, it sounds almost exactly like the multiplatinum-selling Cat Stevens of the early '70s: easy-listening acoustic singer-songwriter material with a ponderous lyrical bent.
It was recorded with Rick Nowels, a dizzyingly successful songwriter-producer-for-hire whose CV encompasses everyone from Charlotte Church to Rod Stewart.
The news of its release has not, Islam says, been greeted with untrammelled delight in every section of the Muslim community: "It's creating heat - there are people pointing fingers at me, saying you shouldn't be doing this, but quite honestly they are not having an effect on anybody, and I'd much prefer to think that what I'm doing now with my little guitar is helping to make things better in the world."
He is scrupulously polite, but clearly uncomfortable. "Right now," he says, offering a pained smile, "I sing better than I talk, and probably this interview will prove it."
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