Al Stewart | Year Of The Cat – Classic Commentary


Released in 1976, Year Of The Cat is the album that put Al Stewart on the map, showcasing his lyrical prowess and musical finesse. The album encapsulates Stewart’s distinctive blend of folk-rock, progressive rock, and storytelling lyricism, drawing listeners into a world where history, romance, and introspection intertwine.

At the heart of the album lies its title track, “Year of the Cat.” With its mesmerizing melody and evocative lyrics, the song transports listeners on a journey through the mystique of nighttime Saigon, where exoticism and intrigue converge. Stewart’s narrative shines as he weaves a tale of chance encounters and enigmatic characters against the backdrop of a city pulsating with life and secrets. The lush instrumentation, featuring saxophone solos and intricate guitar work, adds depth to the song’s allure, immersing listeners in its cinematic allure.

Beyond its titular track, Year Of The Cat boasts a diverse array of musical gems. “On the Border” paints a vivid portrait of love and longing against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, while “Broadway Hotel” delves into the transient nature of fame and fortune with poignant lyricism. Each song on the album serves as a vignette, offering glimpses into different moments in time and space, yet interconnected by Stewart’s masterful storytelling.

One of the album’s standout tracks, “One Stage Before,” showcases Stewart’s introspective side, exploring themes of existentialism and the passage of time. Through poignant lyrics and haunting melodies, the song reflects on the transient nature of life and the inevitability of change, resonating with listeners on a profound level.

On Year Of The Cat, Stewart demonstrates a remarkable ability to blend historical narratives with personal introspection, crafting songs that are both intellectually stimulating and emotionally resonant. Whether delving into the intricacies of ancient civilizations or exploring the complexities of human relationships, Stewart’s lyrics are imbued with a timeless quality that transcends the era in which they were written.

Moreover, the album’s musical arrangements, characterized by intricate instrumentation and rich orchestration, further elevate Stewart’s storytelling, creating a sonic tapestry that is as captivating as it is immersive. From the haunting flute melodies to the soaring guitar solos, each musical element serves to enhance the lyrical narrative, drawing listeners deeper into Stewart’s world.

Nearly five decades since its release, Year Of The Cat continues to captivate audiences with its timeless appeal. Stewart’s masterful storytelling and musical craftsmanship have solidified the album’s place as a classic of the folk-rock genre, inspiring generations of musicians and listeners alike. In an ever-changing musical landscape, Year Of The Cat is testament to the enduring power of art to transcend time and space, leaving an indelible mark on those who dare to embark on its enchanting journey.

~ Yancy DavidsonBookmark and Share