‘I don’t mean to sound like everyone’s dull’: Jon Davison admits Yes’ new Heaven and Earth is ‘easy listening’

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Certainly, some wags out there — including, ahem, us — have described Yes’ ingratiating but rather soft Heaven and Hell as “easy listening.” Singer Jon Davison, who had a hand in writing all but one of the new songs, actually agrees. “You have to just go where the creativity takes you,” Davison admits to The Review-Journal.

He spent a hectic period just before Yes’ on-going tour travelling all over the world to meet with his new bandmates, co-writing tracks and then quickly piecing together an album that had to be finished before the already-scheduled concert dates commenced. Davison, with Yes since 2012, says he learned something along the way.

“At this stage in the game, they want to ease back into some almost relaxing music,” he says. “I don’t mean to sound like everyone’s dull by any means, because that’s not it at all. The music’s probably been interpreted that way. But it’s just a phase in their lives where it’s kind of an easy-listening record.”

Still, don’t take that to mean that Davison isn’t proud of Heaven and Earth. He’s just encouraging fans to take their time, to really absorb the album. At the same time, having joined one of rock’s most recognizable brand names, he understands that there is a level of expectation which can be difficult to overcome on a first listen — or even a third.

“It just kind of warms over you if you let it,” adds Davison, who was born the year before Yes released its widely recognized fourth album Fragile. “It’s a lighter shade of Yes. If people will just sort of put expectation aside, I think eventually over time more people will ease into it. A lot of people already are.”

Yes is featuring Fragile as part of their current concert dates, as well as 1972’s Close to the Edge. Two songs from Heaven and Earth, which made a respectable debut at No. 26 on the Billboard charts, are also included — “Believe Again” and “The Game.” Davison says audiences are beginning to come around.

“There’s obviously not that bubbling energy of response you get like when you break into ‘Roundabout.’” Davison says. “But they’re studious — Yes audiences have always been very studious. And they really applaud at the end. It seems very genuine. I think people are grasping the new music in a live setting.”

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  • DwDunphy

    “It just kind of warms over you if you let it,” adds Davison.

    We call this a poor choice of words.

  • Van Epperson

    So he’s making excuses for how lame it is? And he wrote most of it? Can you say ‘farce’?

    • Yesman2832

      Don’t listen to it or associate yourself with it then. If you hate it so much why do you look for articles online about it? You’re just a grumpy old man who has nothing better to do than be an internet troll. Act your age not your shoe size.

    • Karl Meischen

      Van, Van, Van . . . You. Are. SOOOOO. Obsessed. With. This. Line-up. Get a life! Get an actual job! If you’ve hated Yes as much as you’ve claimed these past 5 years, WHY ARE YOU STILL READING ARTICLES ON THE BAND AND COMMENTING ON EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM?

    • Alex Sawyer

      Good heavens, Van, get over it already.

    • Paul Watson

      He’s probably responding to a question asked regarding some of the comments about the reception to the album, Van. Putting aside your own agenda for hating the current lineup of Yes (and no, we don’t need to know the constant diatribe you throw out about JA being hard done by the band again), some fans find the album a whole lot different to other Yes releases over the years. JonD’s given a measured reply to his own thoughts to this question raised. It’s not an admission of surrender as much as you would like it.

  • Nick Kokoshis

    It’s a nice album, not the be-all and end-all of Yesworks, but a pleasent and spiritually uplifting effort. It definitely took me many listens to get into it, and my favorite album is Topographic Oceans which people also called boring when it was first released.

  • yonkers60

    The album is OK! But I go to see the band to hear the Classic Albums and to see the Great Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan white play before they Decide to Pack it in. Which I hope is not for a long while!

  • James Reyome

    Times change, bands change. You either record and play the same sorts of tunes over and over again, or you can move on and grow. “Heaven and Earth” is Yes circa 2014, and I think it’s wonderful.

  • gmuny2002

    I actually LIKE the album and this is coming from someone who was pissed about the changes made w/in the band!

  • Kirk Tuminaro

    This is DEFINITELY some unobtrusive music which has an almost ambient sort of quietness to it. Now was a good time for the band to try something a bit more different and simple while they work to get Davison completely broken in. For what it is, I really do enjoy Heaven and Earth, but they need to bring back some uptempo jams on their final releases. Yes without the progressive ingenuity and experimentation are why we already have dozens of more poppish bands like Chicago, Toto and the Moody Blues.

  • raindog469

    Good on them (well, at least Davison) for being honest about it. It may not be in my top 5 Yes albums, but it is in the top half. Beats at least one (well, okay, exactly one) ’70s album, even.

    And I’m loving the total lack of self-awareness among fundamentalist Andersonians who fawn over the bloated, lumbering “Magnification” but denigrate this one for its lack of uptempo numbers.