Artist – Al Stewart
Album – Year of the Cat
Year – 1976
Genre – Soft Rock, Singer/Songwriter
Greetings to you all from California! Right now I’m currently in sunny Monterey, and this is my first review from the Golden State! I can assure you there will be at least one California themed song in the coming week so you can all rest easy. For now, let’s take a look at British singer/songwriter Al Stewart’s lovely soft rock anthem, “Year of the Cat.”
That oh so good piano riff that you hear at the beginning, you get to hear throughout the whole song! This whole song has a jazzy sort of sensibility to it and has great texture thanks to the talented piano playing and guitar courtesy of Stewart. It’s almost dreamlike in a sense, and romantic for sure. It’s a very sensual song about forgetting the stresses of life and sometimes going where life takes you, all through the metaphor of a beautiful woman.
Stewart’s voice is soft and delicate, but his wordplay is mesmerizing and very visual.
“She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
Like a watercolor in the rain”
“And her eyes shine like the moon in the sea”
These are but a few examples of Stewart’s evocative writing in this song. His lyrics really evoke a strong sense of romance and passion, as does the music. Speaking of which…
Musically the song is very well constructed with a nice progression and some very talented musicians. The piano especially stands out, and there are some nice little licks thrown in here and there that keep the song interesting. However, we have to talk about the acoustic/electric guitar solo about halfway through the song. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. The way it’s played brings out a mood of sensuality and love, and it’s easy to picture a beautiful woman like the one in the song just by hearing the guitar solo alone. It’s not complicated by any means, but it’s one of my top 5 favorite solos of all time just by the sheer emotion of it.
After the solo, there’s some nice saxophone work and a final verse from Stewart, who closes out the song with that delicate, yet very pleasing voice of his. After some instrumental flourishes at the end, the song finally fades to a close.
This song is worth listening to just because of the guitar solo alone. It’s a song full of romantic lyrical imagery and talented music that really sucks you in. It’s emotional, sensual, and dreamlike; the kind of song you can just close your eyes and picture what Stewart sings about. Even if the song as a whole doesn’t sound interesting to you, I can’t stress enough just how good the solo is. Seriously, listen from 3:20 to 3:53. You’ll be glad you did.
Thanks for listening and be sure to leave a comment! More to come from California soon!