Boasting three piano versions of songs featuring on the album Peace in the Underworld, Yusuf Azak’s latest EP Fuel provides a unique departure from the guitar-driven mysticism that this talented singer-songwriter has established as his calling card.
It seems, when describing Azak’s particular singing style, the word gruff is often selected but there is undoubtedly far more to his style that this simple adjective, his vocals are, themselves, a powerful and emotive instrument, something that becomes quickly evident on this EP thanks to its stripped-back nature.
Beginning with ‘State Courage’, Azak guides the listener through his take on modern discontent in a gorgeous reworking of the original, before a haunting piano intro marks the opening to ‘Fuel’, a stunning example of how this record’s reliance on Azak’s vocals is certainly not misguided.
The final delight in store is the makeover of single ‘Silver Rose’, whereas the original is an addictively upbeat cocktail of eastern guitars, head nodding melodies and an infectious chorus, this new take combines his ghostly, dreamlike vocals with a slow and sombre refrain.
Despite the resulting recording being a vastly different experience from the original, Azak’s talents as a songwriter ensure that it is still an experience worth having.
Overall, these three piano-versions highlight just how much of a talent Azak undoubtedly is and, at times, it’s hard not to find yourself forgetting that this is not how these tracks were originally meant to sound.
For those familiar with Yusuf Azak’s work, this will come as a haunting yet enjoyable expression of the songwriter’s musical talents, for those yet to discover Azak, let this EP be the door that leads the way into his mystically joyous world of music.
Words: Jason Henderson