al stewart

J o h n... S t e w a r t

beach full of shells
John Stewart


“…Stewart’s latest outing, Havana, is one of his most compelling albums in years . . . After a career that spans 40 years and a like number of albums, singer/songwriter John Stewart opts to look toward the past, present and future for inspiration in Havana. From the rockin’ rhythms of the album’s opener, ‘Davey On the Internet,’ a cool tribute to high-tech connections, to a pair of songs that reflect his attempts at musicial immortality – the telling ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Nation’ and ‘I Want to Be Elvis’ – Stewart shows that all these years later, his roots may be showing but his restless spirit steers him still. As always, Stewart’s ability to evoke vivid images and universal emotions remains the the tools of his trade. Singing in a worn, weary voice that blends reflection with despair, he echoes a broad expanse of feelings…The mood is eerily seductive throughout, evident in ballads such as ‘Miracle Girl’ and ‘Star in the Black Sky Shining,’ the cross-country dual narrative ‘Cowboy in the Distance,’ a blues-like ‘One-Eyed Joe’ and a familiar standard-turned-sad lament, ‘Lucky Old Sun..’ In venturing beyond his usual rustic, rootsy terrain, Havana provides the most diverse setting Stewart has ever attempted to engage. That he pulls it off so well is a tribute not only to his talents but to his daring and imagination as well.” 

"With his newest release, Havana, John Stewart turns in a collection of songs that are existential and topical, reflective and relevant, the wonderings and wanderings of an actual daydream believer. Stewart’s voice is raspy and ragged now, sounding like a worldly and experienced man in his sixties--which is exactly what he is. The production is appropriately murky and dark, recalling a touch of Daniel Lanois and even Tom Waits (Stewart produced it himself, by the way) . . . One of the more intriguing and compelling recordings the past several years.” 

“Wonderful crazed, throbbing echoey return from one of the grandfathers of Americana. The gravel voice of the man who wrote 'Daydream Believer' for the Monkees all those years ago is rougher than ever and the music – well it’s the past and the future all rolled into one. The reverbs bouncing off the walls on the glorious opener, 'Davey On The Internet,' that’s at once Elvis but all shook up with a good impersonation of New York electro punkers Suicide. The tracks that follow…are languid and dirty, the spirit of Sun Studios with a banjo, clipped guitar licks and snappy drums, and perfect tunes even if Stewarts drawl has surpassed Johnny Cash, turning whole lyrics into indecipherable guttural throbbings. Stewart still throws in classic numbers, mournful 'Cowboy In The Distance' for one, but the whole soundscape has as much importance as the songs themselves…He’s not far from picking up his pension but this is a dark cool album that shows he’s about ready to put his slippers on as Willie Nelson.”
Maverick (UK)

"This ranks among John Stewart's best albums, which is saying a good deal, since he has released more than 40 – many of them excellent – in a career that dates all the way back to 1961. His first new studio recording in five years, Havana features an eclectic mix of 15 folk-tinged ballads and spirited rockers, all but one by Stewart. (The sole non-original is the standard ‘Lucky Old Sun,’ which proves a perfect match for the singer's world-weary baritone.) The lyrics – some personal, some political – hit their marks more often than not, and are frequently poignant (‘Waiting for Castro to Die’ and the terrific ‘Cowboy in the Distance’) or funny. (‘Attention Kmart shoppers,’ Stewart begins one song, ‘Do you really need all of that crap?’)…The melodies and vocals are consistently strong on this CD. So is the instrumentation, which is mostly by Stewart, who plays guitars, banjo, bass, keyboards, percussion, and harmonica. (Four stars)’
– All Music Guide
“The acoustic guitar-driven songs, filled with raw and slightly weathered vocals, prove how timeless an artist's sound can be when stripped of the bells and whistles.”
San Jose Mercury News

“In his forty plus years in the music business, John Stewart has released more than forty albums. But he shows no signs of exhausting his lyrical well on Havana. The album contains fourteen new songs each conjuring up perfect pictures thanks to John’s ability to tell a tale.”
The Jewish Telegraph (UK)

“[Havana] is filled with soul and dreams. There are 14 mesmerizing tracks. John shows his emotions like he wears them on his sleeve. His cynicism is overshadowed by his inspiration and love for music, and the originals are outstanding. . . .Wine gets better with age, but John gets more fiery and sounds even more distinctive than I can recall on his mid 1990s recordings. (5 stars)”
Eden Daily News (syndicated)
“…An original, often surprising, sometimes trenchant writer.”
Boston Herald