A Life Within A Day - The new Squackett album reviewed by Barry Cass.
The much anticipated and eagerly awaited album; A Life Within A Day by Squackett is certain to please fans of both Steve Hackett and Chris Squire. Being a fan of both guitarists I wondered what music they would conjure up considering that they both have a history of lengthy epic compositions with complicated time signatures thrown in for good measure. They have come up with an album of nine excellently crafted songs ranging from classic rock, pop; ballads and even a bit of jazz thrown into the mix. The blending of both Hackett and Squire’s vocals is amazing and the album is awash with gorgeous harmonies. The end product is certainly a surprise as there are only hints of the prog rock roots that they are both well known for. The album has been brilliantly produced by Roger King who in my opinion has been a great addition to the Hackett team and is responsible for realising Hackett’s ever broadening musical imagination.
The opening title track has a stomping Eastern flavoured power riff reminiscent of the Led Zeppelin classic, Kashmir. The song is pure classic rock and a clear indication that they can still rock with the best of them and this would be a great opener should they decide to do a tour together. The middle section of the song showcases their undoubted virtuosity on their respective instruments.
Tall Ships, the second track has a short nylon guitar intro moving into a mellow groove with a spicy funk riff in the background. The chorus has a memorable hook with beautifully layered harmonies. Squire takes the main vocal on this one.
Divided Self is pure jangly pop with twelve string and doubled guitars in a Beatles/Byrds style song with lush harmonies on the chorus. The Rickenbacker came out of the closet for this one.
Aliens is a lovely atmospheric acoustic song with great soaring lead guitar in the background from the Les Paul sustainer guitar that Steve uses to great effect.
Sea Of Smiles is the song chosen to be the single release as a double A side with Perfect Love Song. This one is an upbeat song with a memorable chorus. A catchy descending bass line from Squire. Again, great vocals from both Hackett and Squire, which for me is the main ingredient of the whole album.
The Summer Backwards is a short acoustic song that is introduced by shimmering twelve string guitar that reminds me of one of Steve’s best compositions: Serpentine Song. It has that same happy feel to the song and it is a pity that it is cut a bit short.
Power house drums introduce the next song; Storm Chaser with a rock riff that has an Eighties Stadium rock feel to it. I am reminded of A Vampyre With A Healthy Appetite on this one. Classic Squire Rickenbacker bass tone accompanied by the rock solid drumming of Jeremy Stacey providing a meaty backbone for Hackett to riff and solo over.
Amanda Lehmann who is now a permanent member of the Hackett electric band joins in for Can’t Stop The Rain which I suspect is a Squire composition. A quiet, sad song giving Hackett a chance to shine on nylon and clean sounding electric guitars. The song ends with a slow build and cleverly segues into the final song: Perfect Love Song. A great rousing finale with a brilliant hook and catchy chorus. Squire provides an ascending bass line with Hackett playing awesome solo guitar. This track is the closest thing to prog rock on the whole album and the only disappointment is that it is so short.
The album is, in my opinion, a huge success for both Hackett and Squire. I hope that they manage to find the time in their busy schedules to take this music on tour. I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised that this album is so good, as it is crafted by two giants of the rock world. The final credit must go to Roger King for his outstanding engineering and production work. I look forward to Squackett II if there is to be one though I won’t hold my breath! Ten out of ten for me!!!