Yes is back! Making a resurgence with their second album in just the past year and a half, Yes has struck gold with their newest release Mirror To The Sky. Many people know Yes as prog rock super group that rose to fame in the 70’s. While their peak in popularity was nearly 50 years ago, Yes has continued to be a force in prog rock music, touring and recording new music over the past five decades despite changes in the groups identity, sound, and members. Mirror To The Sky, is Yes’ first album since the loss of their legendary drummer Alan White. As a replacement to White, Yes recruited drummer Jay Schellen. Schellen has toured with Yes since 2016 when White’s health issues intensified. While guitarist and producer Steve Howe is Yes’ only veteran member remaining, Mirror To The Sky does a fantastic job of paying homage to Yes’ glory days while continuing to evolve and settle into their new form.
Yes introduces Mirror To The Sky, their 23rd album, with a new classic titled “Cut from the Stars”. This track features intricate baselines, conversing synth and guitar solos, and melodic high floating vocals, all a part of Yes’ original sound. “Cut from the Stars” also introduces space-like and interconnectedness imagery that persists throughout the entirety of the album. In videos on Yes’ YouTube channel, bassist Billy Sherwood discusses the making of the piece, and vocalist Jon Davison discusses the message behind his lyrics. Davison states that his first experience at a dark sky park was what inspired the imaginative lyrics to “Cut from the Stars”. A dark sky park is a land where the night skies, stars, and constellations can be observed and experienced vividly because of their protection from light pollution. One can see the illusion to these sanctuaries of sorts both indirectly and directly through Davison’s descriptive lyrics such as, “Planetary sanctuary, I touch, I can reflect it all,” and “Walkabout international dark sky park.” “Cut from the Stars” introduces the listener to exciting astronomical themes and textures that fill Yes’ newest album release from beginning to end.
Yes is no stranger to musical epics that last nearly a whopping ten minutes, and there is no shortage of such pieces in Mirror To The Sky. This album is quite ambitious with not one but four tracks clocking in at over eight minutes. Included in these is the title track “Mirror To The Sky”. Beginning with Steve Howe’s iconic guitar work, “Mirror To The Sky” takes the listener on a full science fictionesque journey through many ups and downs in contrasting musical styles. Despite being the longest track on the album at nearly 14 minutes long, “Mirror To The Sky” retains the listeners’ interest through bass and guitar call and response, warm acoustic guitars, ominous synth lines, and contrasting musical styles. Howe lays down yet another masterful guitar solo leading us to an acoustic shift. This sonic space in the music guides us to a reflective moment in Davison’s lyrics where he leaves us with this message about mortality, “strange worlds unknown, where all man soon must go”. While the final lyrical phrase ends on a somber note, the music abruptly switches to a cinematic style contrasting the solemn lyrical message with a triumphant musical message. The track “Mirror to the Sky” is virtually an album all by itself. Any avid music listener, whether lifelong fans of Yes or have new comers to the band, will certainly do themselves a favor by listening to this musical gem.
Yes has done it once again with nine exceptional tracks - creating yet another modern classic in Mirror To The Sky. After many iterations (especially in recent years) of the band, it is even more impressive that Yes can retain elements reminiscent of their original sound while continuing to modernize and adapt with the times. Yes will embark on their UK tour in May of 2024. This is not one to miss!
Reviewed by Benji Dienstfrey