Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A Life Within A Day

For someone who's been a fan of both Genesis and Yes for more years than I care to remember (but probably at least 35) the prospect of a musical collaboration between former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett & perennial Yes bassist Chris Squire brought a certain anticipation. Their new recording, as 'Squackett', was released this week: how did it turn out?

Clocking in at just over 46 minutes, the album may be considered a little short by modern standards, though others might see it more as 'classic length'. It certainly doesn't feel as if we're being given short shrift, certainly. The virtuosity of Squire and Hackett are evident throughout the recording, backed up by drums & keyboards.

One of the main features of this album for me is the vocal harmonies that are evident throughout. Hackett & Squire's voices blend very well, and lend a great quality to the songs. Chris's voice comes to the fore on three of the tracks: 'Aliens', a song that he brought to the project and which he has, apparently, performed live with Yes in the past (which, to be honest, I think sounds a bit naff); 'The Summer Backwards', a gentle song that Hackett describes a "a nod to all things psychedelic and the 1960s"; and 'Can't Stop The Rain', which reminded me of Squire's 'The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be' on 'Fly From Here' and of all the tracks on this album evokes the feel of his first solo outing, 'Fish Out Of Water'. There's even a bit of a Steely Dan vibe for me here too.

There are echoes for me of some of Steve's solo work in this collection too: shades of 'Defector' on the title track; a quiet acoustic intro to 'Tall Ships'; hints of 'Please Don't Touch' towards the end of the Byrds-like 'Divided Self'. But throughout the record neither of the two men overshadows the other. There is a strong, driving bass in 'Tall Ships' and 'Storm Chaser' (the heaviest track here), and strong guitar licks in 'A Life Within A Day', 'Sea Of Smiles' (which had hints of 'Awaken' in it for me, particularly in the marimba parts), 'Storm Chaser' and the album closer 'Perfect Love Song'.

An album that grows on me with every listen, I would warmly recommend you give it a listen.