al stewart

A l... S t e w a r t

beach full of shells
Al Stewart
A Beach Full of Shells



"...In listening to [Stewart's] latest offering, the blissfully dubbed A Beach Full of Shells, there’s a sense that his music is indeed timeless. Anyone with a distant memory of his indelible ’70s hit ‘Year of the Cat’ will instantly recognize the affable vocals and the evocative story songs that helped establish him. Indeed, it’s been more than 30 years since this veteran folkie made his presence known on the radio waves, but you’d hardly know it from listening to this latest engaging effort. It’s filled with one winning melody after another, each a beguiling narrative littered with descriptive images of a time and place far removed from our own. Stewart sings in first person, portraying characters that resonate with humor and humanity. Those alluring impressions remain a vital part of Stewart’s sound, and here they’re illustrated with ‘The Immelman Turn’ with its infectious choruses; ‘Gina in the King’s Road,’ the album’s most riveting rocker; and the jaunty ‘Anniversary,’ a pleasing coda. . . . Stewart’s music fortunately shows no sign of forced obsolescence. A Beach Full of Shells shows this venerable singer/songwriter still doing what he does best, and clearly his best is as good as ever.”
Lee Zimmerman, Goldmine, Dec. 23, 2005

  "Historian, romanticist, intellectual Stewart has long been the master of time and place; all the more so in his ability to deliver a still-fresh voice and perspective that transcends trends and technology. The storyteller lives through Stewart’s fertile imagination and lofty lyricism; his depiction of lesser-known mysteries, obscure personalities, real and fictitious events make for a higher form of listening and uncommonly timeless entertainment. . . . Stewart remains in faultless form. Like the fine wine he collects when he’s not tilting at literary windmills, he’s aged for the better and Beach is all the proof you’ll need. (*** Mark of Distinction)” 
Eric Thom, Exclaim Magazine, Toronto
"Al’s fans will find plenty to enthuse about in A Beach Full of Shells. . . There’s been no deterioration in either his vocals or guitar-playing since his Year of the Cat heyday. Indeed, there’s some immaculate ensemble playing here with Stewart himself especially impressive on acoustic and occasionally Knopfler-like electric lead.” (3 stars)
Maverick Magazine, UK
"[Stewart's] vocal style and craftsmanship remains intact. It would be a mistake, however, to view Stewart as no more than the maker of pop confections specially designed for a mass radio audience. . . . The complexity of his approach is best experienced on ‘Somewhere in England 1915,’ a lengthy song (nearly seven minutes) with shifting dream imagery. Weaving fantasy with brief references to World War I, the narrator eventually wakes up 90 years later to find himself on the edge – the song seems to suggest – of yet another war. Stewart accomplishes all of this without ever being obvious, giving the song a subtle quality as it reveals its surprises to the listener. This, however, is only one of many moods on A Beach Full of Shells. ‘Katherine of Oregon’ is as light as air, a pleasant, flowing ballad with nice acoustic guitar and light percussion, while ‘Mona Lisa Talking’ shifts through a number of intriguing chord changes to offer a little common sense advice. A Beach Full of Shells probably doesn't spell Stewart's return to the Top 40, but it is a solid effort that will certainly please fans.’
All Music Guide
“Stewart is one of those artists that made it hard on himself to live up to his own reputation. With his first new US release in 10 years, Stewart returns to his folkie roots and just lets the songs flow. With an ear turned toward all his eras, this set might be thought of as an audiobiography, but it isn't exactly. It is a dandy late period work by an artist that still has plenty to say, even if he's going to take his time saying it. Folk fans can almost treat him as a welcome new artist worth checking out.”
Midwest Record
"You can always count on Al Stewart to tell a story in music. He has been doing it since the early ’60s, perfecting his craft as he progressed. . . Stewart is a master of song in short and long displays. The album is complete with meanderings down the paths of time, culture, and philosophy with side roads to traces of sadness, an element that invades much of Al Stewart’s catalog whether it’s intentional or not. But it all works just like it always has. A Beach Full of Shells is a strong effort by Al Stewart and will be immediately comfortable with long time fans. . . . a clear choice winner . . . A personal thanks to Appleseed Recordings for releasing important voices and not letting them sink into the Gulf of Obscurities.
“. . . This is melancholy stuff and, as such, quite beautiful.” 
Bill Chiasson, Dirty Linen, Dec. ’05/January ’06