McCartney, Parton Guest On New Yusuf Album
McCartney, Parton Guest On New Yusuf Album

The former Cat Stevens will follow up 2006's "An Other Cup," his first secular album in 28 years, with a set that recalls his straightforward troubadour days. The as-yet-untitled set is due in late spring from Universal.

"This one was really a result of me writing a lot of songs and being kind of inspired again," Yusuf tells Billboard. "After I recorded ['Cup'] people just wanted to hear me do a lot of simple stuff, just with the guitar."

The single "Boots & Sand" features Paul McCartney and Dolly Parton -- with a video shot by Jesse Dylan, son of Bob -- while Michelle Branch and Gunnar Nelson assist on the track "To Be What You Must."

"Boots" was written as a result of 2004 incident in which Yusuf was denied entry into the U.S., apparently as a result of mistaken identity on the post-9/11 "no fly" terrorist watch list. "It's a slight oddity of a song," he says. "The image I had was kind of a cowboy B-movie made in Italy, but the story came from real events, real people."

The new album's stripped-down sound is in contrast to "Cup," which featured tracks with prominent layers. "Perhaps I went to town a little bit with the production on the last album," Yusuf says. "I was just having fun with the new technologies -- we have endless tracks on Pro Tools. You can just flow them out and add and add, and I did."

Yusuf came to Pro Tools thanks to his son, who performs under the name Yoriyos and encouraged him to play with recordings and a computer in his home studio in London. "He's got such ears," Yusuf says. "I could understand what he wanted to create - that journey than the album can take you on."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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