The name Squackett is a contraction of the surnames of its two prominent members Chris Squire, bass player of Yes, one of the most famous prog rock bands ever, and Steve Hackett, the former guitar player of Genesis, another famous prog rock formation. The latest solo album of Steve Hackett Beyond The Shrouded Horizon (2011, see review), was in my opinion one of his best solo efforts to date, so I was really looking forward to listen to this album called A Life Within A Day. It took four years to create it and the outcome is a CD holding nine songs consisting of clever prog rock, jazzy parts, bombastic passages and many vocal parts. The sound of the entire album kind of reminds me of bands like Genesis, Yes, Conspiracy, Asia, Billy Sherwood and even The Alan Parsons Project!
The album starts with the title track, which is I think the best song of A Life Within A Day. This song has it all, that is, all that an outstanding prog rock song needs. This means great melodies, amazing hooks, fabulous guitar solos, bombastic rock passages and wonderful sounding vocals. I truly wished that the remainder of the album were as good as this one! In that case I would undoubtedly have awarded the album with the maximum rating of five stars. Follow-up Tall Ships is a rather funky Conspiracy-like track dominated by Squire's bass guitar. Hackett's solo halfway the song is well-played, but nothing spectacular. Divided Self is the first disappointing song as it sounds rather mainstream, a bit simple even. The chorus is extremely catchy, perhaps making it a radio-friendly single.
Aliens kicks off in the vein of Asia, followed by vocal harmonies reminiscent of Crosby, Stills and Nash. This piece sounds like a ballad mainly due to the semi-acoustic sound. But it gets worse; just listen to the utterly boring lullaby The Summer Backwards and you have to be careful not to fall asleep... Luckily the listener is then treated to the amazing Storm Chaser, which is a guitar driven Conspiracy/Yes-like track featuring one of Steve's best guitar solos on the album. Can't Stop The Rain is again a ballad-like slow song, you might even call it laid back or jazzy as the piano plays an important part in this song. The album ends nicely with Perfect Love Song in which Steve's solo plays the leading part.
All in all I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed. A Life Within A Day kicks off in an amazing way, but the extremely high level of the first two songs can't be maintained during the remainder of the album, which is sad but nonetheless true, that is, for me. Don't get me wrong! Of course this isn't a bad album at all, but it could have been so much better; maybe next time? Listening tip: the title track; play this one at maximum volume to really enjoy!
**** Martien Koolen (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013