Review Summary: A very solid album. Colourful and even beautiful at times.
Chris Squire's 'Fish Out of Water' borrows its tone from Yes' heyday, and that's not a surprise bearing in mind that Squire's bass and vocals were such a key part of Yes' sound. Despite the echoes of 'Fragile' and 'Relayer', what we have on our hands with this album is a lush, musically dense and creative piece of work that barely has a dull moment.
The album kicks off with 'Hold Out Your Hand' which segues into the second track 'You By My Side'. Both songs demonstrate the key difference between Squire and Yes: Yes' lyrics were cryptic and fantasy based, Squire's are more personal and focus on more basic, non-progressive subject matters, something as basic as love on 'You By My Side':
'You know I love you, I can't be without you. When I'm alone, I still feel this way about you.'
Musically, Yes always created vast musical landscapes and had very little time for something as pop-based as 'You By My Side'. The song does have it's roots in pop but the arrangements really do enhance the experience for the listener, and are kind of progressive. A track like 'You By My Side' is progressive rock at its most accessible because it doesn't become excessive or pompous, it's just a standard love song blown up a bit. My point is that the songs on this album are not as anal as Yes', they sound more relaxed, therefore, more accessible in such a genre as prog rock.
When I compare Yes to Chris Squire, I am really saying that Squire finds a good balance of rock and progressive rock. However, this does not mean that this album isn't flawed; it is. Pretty much my only problem with 'Fish Out of Water' is that some of the compositions are simply too long. I'm not saying they're too long in the sense that we need to go back to the 3-minute-pop-song format, I'm saying they're too long because the instrumental sections drone on. A good portion of 'Safe (Canon Song)' is filler. And where does that filler lie? In the instrumentals. After you're done with the three verses, which are finished quite early on in the song, it needs to occupy another ten minutes, and so you see the problem. If Squire had written another song that's about 5 minutes long, you wouldn't need to have had that extra 5 minutes on 'Safe'. If you're going to write a 15-minute-long song, make sure you have 15 minutes' worth of material. Despite this, the closing track is a relatively strong number but my least favourite on the album by far.
'Silently Falling' and 'Lucky Seven' are both very enjoyable numbers, the latter of which is probably the most jazz-orientated number thanks to Patrick Moraz' keyboard and piano work and sublime sax playing from Mel Collins. Of course, both tracks feature a strong use of Chris Squire's immaculate bass playing and strong, tenor vocals.
To conclude, if you are a fan of Yes, progressive rock, or just straightforward pop, give this album a listen. It's unique, incredibly creative and a great gateway to the rest of the prog world. 4.5/5