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.”