"Beat Café" is the first new Donovan CD for grown-ups since 1996’s "Sutras" ("The Pied Piper," a children’s CD, was issued in 2002). While "Sutras," produced and released by Rick Rubin (Johnny Cash, the Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mick Jagger) emphasized Donovan’s folk roots, "Beat Café" is an extension of the heady rock/folk/pop/jazz/blues/world music brew that has become Donovan’s trademark.
To capture the spirit of the Bohemian café happenings dating back to 1840s Paris that combined philosophy, poetry and free thought and inspired this CD, Donovan enlisted multiple Grammy-winner John Chelew (Blind Boys of Alabama, Richard Thompson, John Hiatt) as producer and keyboardist and the world–class rhythm section of folk/jazz double bassist and longtime Donovan accompanist Danny Thompson (Nick Drake, Richard Thompson, The Pentangle, John Martyn) and drummer/percussionist Jim Keltner (Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, George Harrison, many more). Applying a "no fixed arrangements" approach to foster the proper mood of spontaneity, Donovan (vocals, guitars) and his cohorts have created a lusciously atmospheric collection of eleven new original Donovan compositions plus a cover of the folk standard "The Cuckoo."
This "beat café" of the mind is a sensuous, smoky den of fevered seduction (the hypnotic "Love Floats," "Yin My Yang," "Two Lovers," "Whirlwind"), jazzy, finger-snapping hipness ("Poorman’s Sunshine" and the title song), death-mocking blues ("Lord of the Universe"), and gentle spirituality ("Shambhala," "Do Not Go Gentle," the latter song an adaptation of Dylan Thomas’s famous poem). The contemporary production values meld mystic chants, teasing wordplay, tender meditations and warm musical telepathy into a reaffirmation of Donovan’s status as a unique and vibrant musical visionary.