Arc Of Life - Arc Of Life,
Now, I confess I have not heard the latest Yes studio album, but I was so traumatized after ‘Heaven & Earth’ that I have not been able to bring myself to buy it. Why do I mention this? Well, in many ways this band is a Yes offshoot as virtually everyone has been involved with them in some way. The line-up contains three current Yes members in vocalist Jon Davison, bassist/vocalist Billy Sherwood, and drummer Jay Schellen, and is completed by Dave Kerzner (ex-Sound of Contact) on keyboards and guitarist Jimmy Haun (who has recorded with Yes in the past, on ‘Union’ for example). People are bound to compare this band to Yes given the close relationships, but that is unfair in so very many ways. All those involved have had careers away from that band, and I was a fan of Davison with Glass Hammer long before he joined Yes, Schellen and Sherwood were both in World Trade, Kerzner has been involved with multiple bands outside of Sound of Contact etc.
The issue with Yes in 2021 is that it is not the same band from the Seventies, but that band can never get back together as one key member has died, and arguably the last great album to feature many of the classic line-up was actually not even a Yes album but was ‘ABWH’! Yes have never stopped being a great live act, they just could not get their head around what they needed to produce in the studio to move away successfully from the past, and even the album which put them back into many progheads minds, 2011’s ‘Fly From Here” had its base in music originally written nearly 30 years earlier. So, what I am getting to with all this diatribe? Simply, do not think of this as a Yes album as it isn’t. True, we have multiple people involved who are linked very closely with that band, but here they have none of the baggage. Davidson sings in a similar fashion to Anderson, while Sherwood has always had a sound and style like Squire, which is why he was the perfect replacement, but this is not Yes, but is a new band trying to make their own way with their own album.
Agreed, there are times when there are Yes elements, it would be surprising if that were not the case, but apart from the awful “Talking With Siri”, this album is pretty much a delight from beginning to end. Yes have been one of my favourite bands for more than 40 years now, and I was quite concerned about this release, but the guys are playing with a freedom which was pointedly lacking on ‘Heaven & Earth’. There is no baggage around their necks of historically producing some of the most important albums within the genre of all-time, and instead they have just gone out and had some fun. I am not sure if I am ever going to build up enough courage to listen to ‘The Quest’, but if these guys put out another album, then it will be something I look forward to playing. This has a commercial crossover symphonic feel and is something I have really enjoyed.