"Squackett - A Life Within A Day" reviewed by Jill Walker.
It is here at last, the long awaited collaboration from Steve Hackett and Chris Squire. Was it worth the wait? For me a definite YES! (No pun intended). My only worry is that I loved it from the first play, which is unusual as my favourite albums tend to be the ones that take repeated listens. Time will tell!
Life Within A Day opens with the cascading piano keys of Roger King, closely followed by soaring Hackett guitar and the pounding heavy bass from Mr Squire. It grabs you from the start, moving onwards and upwards to an almost chaotic middle section, turning into a duel between guitar and bass from Steve and Chris. Very impressive! Tight harmonies, a driving beat, orchestrated rock, this track has it all. One to hear live if you please, guys!
An immediate contrast comes with Tall Ships. The gentle acoustic Hackett guitar intro eases us in before the big bass notes from Chris take you on a night time journey across the ocean. I love the deep driving bass on this one. You can feel the swaying, hypnotic motion of the Tall Ships. Very descriptive lyrics, beautifully harmonised making this a great track.
Divided Self shows yet another side to this project. An upbeat, quirky pleasant little song with a discordant fairground feel to the ending.
The pace slows with Aliens, and with clear vocals from Chris, plus great harmonies, it’s an eerily mysterious listen. A Yes influence is to be heard in Steve’s guitar section. How these talented musicians merge their styles is wondrous to hear. Lyrically interesting, giving a futuristic look at what might be.
Fast paced Sea Of Smiles comes next. A catchy song with a sing-along chorus that could be a live favourite! There is a familiar sounding Hackett solo in the middle and once again, the harmonies are gorgeous.
The Summer Backwards is in the style of an English pastoral song, reminiscent of Serpentine Song. The dreamy lyrics and soft, lilting melody drift along beautifully, lulling us into a sense of calm before the storm…..
…. Then it hits you; the lightning flashes of Steve’s guitar and the thunderous bass lines from Chris herald Storm Chaser. You will be reaching for your boots and anoraks as you go chasing the twister. It’s so atmospheric, I love it! This is a MUST hear live, my favourite track on the album.
The storm abates but you Can’t Stop The Rain. This is a beautiful ballad with Chris taking lead vocals, with a clear and precise delivery and more lovely layered harmonies as accompaniment. The repeated chorus with a subtle key change is asking for audience participation (hint, hint!).
Rather than just fade out, this song leads us straight into the final track; Perfect Love Song and the pace and volume gather into one last feast of sweeping guitars, pounding bass and hypnotic harmonies - gorgeous. The Perfect Love Song? The perfect album? Pretty much so, I think.
There is plenty to love here, with hints of Genesis and Yes and the unmistakable styles of Hackett and Squire. The album is a perfect marriage of equal talents complementing each other to great effect. The sublime harmonies from Steve, Chris and Amanda Lehmann are a highlight throughout. Expertly produced by Roger King whose keyboard contribution is second to none, this album is something special. Go out and buy!
If you want 5.1 surround sound, there is a CD/DVD deluxe edition, however the DVD does not have any video or photographic additions, just an album with improved sound. My only slight disappointment as I was hoping there might be some footage or photos from the recording sessions as well. It does come as two discs in a hard backed book with lyrics and four photos though.
Thanks to Steve and Chris and all involved in the Squackett project. Please, please we need to hear this LIVE!