A Life Within A Day
So Squackett, the collaboration that Steve Hackett and Chris Squire have been working on for some four years now, has finally surfaced The two began working together — after having actually met in the mid-80s in the U.S. — when Chris Squire was working on a solo Christmas album (Swiss Choir) and needed some guitar parts. Squire was put in touch with Hackett, who contributed guitar to Squire’s album. The bassist returned the favor by playing on Hackett’s last two solo releases, Beyond The Shrouded Horizon and Out Of The Tunnel’s Mouth. As they worked together on those various projects, the nine songs on A Life Within A Day were born.
From the plodding (in a good way) verses and big single-note main theme of the album’s title track, both Hackett and Squires’ writing styles mesh perfectly — not to mention their voices. There is also some blistering instrumentation throughout, showcasing drummer Jeremy Stacey’s talents as well (he of the new Oasis project, Sheryl Crow and many others). The title track opens quietly with Hackett’s perfect (yet too short for my tastes) classic guitar noodling, but then we are into an almost funky groove on “Tall Ships,” another song featuring a superb vocal mix.
We enter slightly poppy seas on “Divided Self,” with its straight-ahead beat and jangly guitar. “Aliens” has a nice sweet acoustic guitar and soft bass, sounding more like America or Crosby, Stills & Nash. For my money, “Sea Of Smiles” is a standout track, opening with the great double vocal and a lilting Roger King keys (he’s the album’s producer). It doesn’t take long for Squire to come thumping in as the verses take on a slight urgency with a great chorus. The truly acoustic “Summer Backwards” is all harmony vocals, with a nice Hackett guitar that almost mines Beach Boys/ELO territory.
Things get chunky and funky again on the talking guitar and bass dominated “Storm Chaser.” This is a true tour de force with Hackett’s vibrato and perfectly placed riffs. We’re into Alan Parsons territory on “Can’t Stop The Rain,” with its staccato vocal chorus and such a sweet acoustic lead. The last tune, “A Perfect Song,” features a truly inspired Hackett playing at what could be considered his best. Like David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler and Steve Rothery from Marillion, Hackett can do so much with just a few notes. Add the great vocals from the guys and Amanda Lehmann (these two date back to 2006-07 and a Squire solo album that was never released). A Life Within A Day is every bit what you’d expect from such talents like Chris Squire and Steve Hackett — even a bit more with a commercial edge added to these nine songs.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.