Artist: Billy Sherwood
Album: Divided By One
Label: Backyard Levitation
Release Date: 11/06/2015
When Billy Sherwood took over the role of Yes’ bassist from the late Chris Squire, it came as no surprise to those fans that have followed his trajectory. As one of their prime frontline stringers, he was known to frequently sit in with the band and perform with various Yes alumni on their solo projects. Not that he needs to hang his hat on those credentials alone; with seven solo albums to his credit, Sherwood’s pedigree is well assured. Indeed, his recent compendium, entitled — what else? — Collection, is the ideal primer for all those unawares.
Fast forward to the present, and Sherwood’s latest opus, Divided By One, affirms that his songs’ similarity in style to Yes made his choice to become tapped as a new band member all but certain from the start. Sherwood’s high pitched vocals sound remarkably like Jon Anderson’s, and allow a natural fit with the band’s trademark harmonies. That’s especially apparent on songs such as “On Impact,” “Constellation Codex” and the title track, but it’s the meandering tempos and — pardon the expression — the roundabout melodies that bring those Yes songs immediately to mind. If Sherwood hasn’t taken his cues from the Yes songbook, then clearly the evolution has occurred quite naturally. Many of these tunes could easily find a seamless fit in the band’s live repertoire, and audiences would likely not even notice any interruption.
Of course, there’s a danger in that too. If Sherwood is opting to establish an individual identity, he may have to convince the pundits he’s interested in doing more than pandering to the prog crowd. And while the circular sway is certainly an alluring element, there’s a noticeable lack of material that can be deemed of the hummable variety. No worry though. Now that he’s locked into a solid day job, Sherwood’s sensibilities make a fine fit.
– Lee Zimmerman