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Esquire - Coming Home CD (album) cover




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3.04 | 8 ratings

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Easy Livin
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3 stars Part of the family

Having had tracks included on both the "Yes; friends and family" compilations, along with numerous other similar extended-Yes collections, one could be forgiven for assuming that there is a direct connection between Esquire and Yes. The truth is though that Esquire take their name from Chris Squire's ex-wife Nikki, who is lead singer and song writer with the band. While Chris had some involvement with Esquire's eponymous debut, he has made it clear in interviews that he was not involved in any way with this, the band's second (and to date latest) release.

Esquire was originally a trio, but between their two albums, keyboards player Charles Olins left, leaving just Nikki and bassist Nigel McLaren. The pair write and perform all the songs here, assisted by guest musicians such as Denny Laine (of the early Moody Blues and later Wings), and Chris Slade of Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Due to a number of factors, not least of which the upheaval in Nikki's personal life, the album took some years to finalise, eventually appearing in 1997. That version came in a choice of red or blue covers, but neither sold in great quantities and are now firmly classed as rarities. A CD re-release of the album in 2002 saw greater success, that version containing two additional tracks "Yours truly" and "Hearts of gold".

"Coming home" is generally regarded as a better album than "Esquire", with less overt Yes overtones. That said, Nikki's voice does have a passing similarity with that of her ex-husband in both style and tone. On the opening "Digital kids" this is particularly apparent, the song having a resemblance with songs by the Yes West combo. In terms of music, this is one of the more straightforward songs on the album, the repetitive hook on the chorus clearly being intended to catch the listener's attention. "Big girls don't cry" (not the Four seasons song!) reminds me a bit of "Big generator" in terms of its slower, majestic beat; Nikki's vocals sound rather like Chaka Khan's (especially Khan's contribution to Rick Wakeman's album "1984").

It is when we get to "Tron Thomi' that we reach the real meat of the album. This song, which was influenced by the Squire's middle daughter whose nickname is Tronika, looks at such weighty matters as religion and ecology from a little girls viewpoint. With a running time of around 8 minutes, the piece is allowed to develop more fully, Nikki's vocals here being very Jon Anderson like. Indeed, there are a number of Yes' tricks and trademarks throughout the song, these being very much to the benefit of this, one of the undoubted highlights of the album.

"We are" is a pleasant power ballad with suitably sugary lyrics, the multi-part harmonies on the chorus coming across particularly well. The relatively brief "Yours truly" is a pleasant, but undemanding light pop song. The title track is another well constructed power rock number with a more progressive arrangement. "Change of heart" is a delightful romantic pop ballad with some fine keyboards. Whether the lyrics are intended for Chris is not stated, presumably not. "Glass houses" is a rather average upbeat number with only a burst of admittedly enjoyable lead guitar to distinguish it. "The zone of O" returns to the feel of a Yes song, from their later years at least.

"Keep on dreaming" has a similar complexion to that of the opening track, the jaunty upbeat mood coming across as overtly pop. "Save it" could again be a paean of another sort to Chris, the child like vocals on the chorus being surprisingly effective. The album closes with "Hearts of gold", another power ballad with an atmospheric arrangement.

"Coming home" offers firm evidence that Nikki Squire is a highly proficient musician in her own right. There's no doubt that living with Chris Squire and being involved in his work has rubbed of on her, but this can only be to her benefit. Overall, this album is a little too one dimensional to be hailed as a lost classic from the wider Yes family. There is though plenty of fine music here, and while it could never be described as progressively challenging, there is certainly a depth to the music which enhances the overall listening experience.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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