CD Review – Yes – Mirror to the Sky

This is a very important album for the band,” said Steve Howe back in March. Yes’ longest serving member was producer of the album this time round “We kept the continuity in the approach we established on The Quest, but we haven’t repeated ourselves. That was the main thing. As Yes did in the seventies from one album to another, we’re growing and moving forward. In later years, Yes often got going but then didn’t do the next thing. This album is demonstrative of us growing, and building again.” Going for the One, so to speak.

Time and again we get drawn back to talking about the core values that Yes has espoused from day one – a USP of vocals and vocal harmonies, extraordinary musical prowess, unexpected and ambitious song structures, complex arrangements, and a disregard for genre. Making the rules as they go along. All things which have meant that, down the years, passionate fans have fallen in and out of love with the band’s music or musical direction. Me included. Perpetual Change indeed. CTTE was my introduction, working backwards and then living through the ups and downs of every release until they finally lost me at Heaven and Earth. I had to Leave It.

That journey included living through the band’s seemingly turbulent family differences over the years. But following their 2021 album The Quest, there seems to have been an element of harmony. Yes we saw the sad departure from this earth of Alan White, but there was continuity with Jay Schellen already in an active role. High the Memory.

And in addition it looks like the pent-up creative energy that had been building over lockdowns, and while other hampering elements took a toll, has resulted in an explosion of creative output. It seems, as they were wrapping up that album with Howe at the helm, Yes found themselves with 20 minutes or so of song sketches, structures, and ideas. And they had unconditional support from InsideOut boss Thomas Waber, who encouraged them to keep going in the studio, months before The Quest’s release. Wondrous Stories indeed.

All looking good, feeling positive. But let’s hear it from the band’s perspective. “We felt a little melancholy that The Quest was winding down, so we said, ‘Well, why don’t we just keep going?’” according to singer Jon Davison. “I had been living in England, and it was just going so well with Steve and I meeting with (engineer) Curtis Schwartz, and working at the Yes HQ studio.” 

“There was a lot of material floating around because the band hadn’t done anything in the studio for so long. Ideas were just copious,” says bassist Billy Sherwood (below). “The pace of it was fast. As soon as we were finished with The Quest, and the mix had come out, we took a couple of little breaks there to catch our breath. But there was still music flowing around in the loop. It was just constantly being looked at and worked on. As we were all home and in that mode, things started progressing quite swiftly. We just went one album into another without really announcing, ‘Hey, we’re working on a second record right now.’ We just continued to work on material. It came about pretty naturally, and then we refined it as the process went on. But the initial bursts — there was a lot of material around!”  Onward!

So we have an album, Mirror To The Sky that features not one, but four tracks clocking in at over eight minutes, with the sweeping and cinematic title track clocking in just shy of fourteen minutes. For those for whom quantity equates to prog goodness, yes they do take the listener round the houses, evoking soundscapes, setting up atmospheres and working to band strengths: Steve Howe’s dazzling guitar collection and stylistic contribution, Jon Davison’s crystalline vocals, Billy Sherwood’s technically clever bass carrying on the Squire legacy, keyboard legend Geoff Downes’ impressive sound choices and sleight of hand embellishments, and Jay Schellen’s input on drums. Union. Talking of which…..

Jay Schellen (below) has actually been touring with the band since 2016, and was hand-picked to step into his mentor and friend Alan White’s role when the latter sadly passed away in 2022. “I had done the 2016 Topographic Drama tour on my own for Alan,” says Jay. “From late 2017 onwards, we had a partnership, and a beautiful partnership, I might add. I learned so much, and discovered so much about Alan’s style, and why it was the way it was. It fit his personality so perfectly. This album has Alan’s presence all over it. It is inside of us. So this is still, in my heart, Alan just being present and with us, and with me, in a big way.”  Listening to the band talk, there’s a Rhythm of Love.

“Jay’s a light force of creativity and personality,” adds Jon Davison. “You feel good just by being around him. He incorporates so much of his soulfulness into his skillful playing. He has a strong rock background and brings that punchy tightness to the music in his own unique way, yet remains very much true to Alan’s style.”  And there’s more from the new kid on the percussive block….

“I feel a great harmony with us all,” says Jay Schellen. “Being relaxed about things, maybe that’s the ingredient that just fuels the creativity. We’re definitely a team, and we feel a lot of harmony, and a lot of fondness for each other. Being around each other is great. That’s awesome.” 

We truly get along as people,” says Jon Davison (below). “I feel like everyone’s focused inward to the greater circle, concentric to the core of highest standards that define Yes. It’s a wonderful thing to witness and of which to play a part. I believe this reflects vibrantly in the music and the creative input that each one is willing to apply, not for the benefit of the individual, but for the greater whole that is Yes. When you think about the evolutionary creation process of the band, it’s interesting to see how The Yes Album had to happen before the band could evolve to a state of creating Fragile. Then Fragile, in all its uniqueness, became the new standard, which then became the evolutionary catalyst for Close to the Edge. Each album propelled them to the next, yet each remained distinctly unique to its predecessor. How exciting that all these years later, the band can still have a bit of that momentum, as evident in the evolutionary creative process from The Quest to Mirror To The Sky.” Making it Happen, eh, Jon?

So the band talk about harmony, about teamwork and creative input. And I’ve already mentioned these features as being Yes’s key attributes. So does the new album live up to the hype and legacy?

Well first off let me say I listened to their previous album before this one, to get context. If the band were saying there’d been such a positive vibe when recording their latest, and it was a carryover, I needed to hear what was being carried over. And I did hear a coherent product, no compilation feel of Union or coasting feel of Open Your Eyes. No peaks or troughs of The Ladder or Tormato. A creativeness of Magnification and a cohesiveness of Talk with its firm production values in place. Parallels. But it struck me like they were trying too hard. But it it’s also clear how this approach to tap into the creative juices was of benefit…

‘Cut from the Stars’ is actually up there with a lot of Yes quality products – all those classic elements I’ve already mentioned bonded into a concise format, in fact I would have liked more…..and can I give the prominent bass a shout out here? – good to hear! ‘All Connected’ is an apt title introduced by Howe slide, and prominent among all the to and fro of stylish time changes and nine minutes of uplifting musical intricacies (and that excellent bass again) are some excellent vocal harmony and team harmonic interchanges. ‘Luminosity’ is another lengthy epic, brimming with invention, injecting a slight medieval feel at times, and dare I say it, you could move this one back down the Yes history files and imagine this one with a certain ‘other’ Jon singing. Excellent structure, superb vocal interaction, clever construction, and yet another tremendously positive number. ‘Living out their Dream’ begins in an almost “standard” rock feel that blends the beatlesque with some american touches, with plenty of Yes twiddles, but what is notable is the energy, the life, the drive and the palpable pleasure the band are exuding.

Title track ‘Mirror to the Sky’ is an astonishing 13 minute atmospheric and sonically superb epic with all guns blazing from all sides at all times. Orchestral and atmospheric, it is deserving of its title role. ‘Circles of Time’ provides a respite after the astonishing assault on the senses by the previous title track. ‘Unknown Place’ is a joyous 8 minutes of jolly prog goodness – shout out for the cowbell! But seriously the latter section with its church organ is a fantastic throwback to Wakeman era yet owned fully by this new band incarnation. A lighter jollity, almost retro, continues with ‘One Second is Enough’. Album closer ‘Magic Potion’ is a solid enough song that you could argue acts as a palette cleanser after a sumptuous feast. Light to the taste with funky bass, opportunity for guitar and keys to feature, and such a clean sound overall. Sweetness.

If I was underwhelmed by ‘The Quest’, I was overwhelmed by ‘Mirror to the Sky’. Their approach seems to have worked big time, combining an overflow of ideas into a melodic, harmonic, dynamic, epic, worthy album release. Finally! Maybe they need to keep this approach going…..

“We’ve shown that this method works,” says Geoff Downes (above) of Yes’ locking in on this new recording process with Steve Howe in the guitarist/producer role, which has resulted in the band reaching new levels of productivity and creativity, making fine music. “The band’s really, really on fire. Everyone is pulling in the same direction. It may have something to do with the fact that we were all off the grid for so long. But at the same time, we did manage to pull it together very quickly. All that work that we’d done prior to the pandemic really enabled us to dust ourselves off quickly and get back into it. We wanted to show everybody that we are still a force to be reckoned with.” Yesterday and Today – Aiming High, so to speak….

Billy Sherwood agrees. “It feels like a natural evolution of everyone being comfortable in their chair and bringing their best to the table,” he says. “Everyone did that on Mirror To  The Sky in a major way. It’s nice to think about the future and where things are going to  go. The possibilities are endless at this point.” an Endless Dream, you might say.

Steve Howe (above) is ever-optimistic about what comes next. “What we’ve just done is what we’re going to do again. Touring is back on. There’s almost clearer definitions between these things now than there ever was before, and we’re hoping for a nice mix of things — some great touring, and this album coming out. We seem to be enjoying it more. We’re happier. There’s a collective awareness. If I didn’t understand how good these guys were, it wouldn’t be worth doing. But since they are that good, then I can come up to their game and help in every way I can. I have had more responsibility on Mirror To The Sky. But what the guys have been coming through with is stronger as well, and hopefully, my contributions are stronger, too.” A worthwhile Venture indeed.

This album is a collection of high energy, intricate, lush and layered new studio songs on an album which adds much to the band’s much heralded legacy, while charting a path to exciting Future Times ahead. I’m back off the fence. Where Will You Be?



 1.   Cut From The Stars 5.25 

  1. All Connected 9.02 
  1.  Luminosity 9.04 
  1.  Living Out Their Dreams 4.45 
  1. Mirror To The Sky 13.53 
  1. Circles Of Time 4.59 


  1.  Unknown Place 8.15 
  1. One Second Is Enough 4.04 
  1. Magic Potion 4.08 


Steve Howe – guitar, vocals 

Geoff Downes – keyboards, vocals 

Jon Davison – vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion 

Billy Sherwood – bass, vocals 

Jay Schellen – Drums  

Artwork by Roger Dean 



  1. It’s unfortunate to see them being so wasteful by using two CDs for 62 minutes of music, when it could easily fit on one.


  2. This is truly a fine album. To have YES with us in 2023! In a world in so many ways troubled, YES has always been a ray of light… thanks Steve, Billy, Geoff, Jay, and Jon (and all the rest of the Yesmen who preceeded). Wonderful work… looking forward to Future Times! Light and love!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.