“And I’m still here, still rolling on, trying to get ‘I love you’ into every song” … those words, from a song off Justin Hayward’s 2013 solo release Spirits of the Western Sky, says a lot about the Moody Blues frontman’s solo work. He’s no longer writing about questions, or Tuesday afternoons, or days of future passed. Hayward’s solo songs are all about love, love, love, and the music that accompanies these declarations of amour is light and sweet and tuneful.
Hayward does what he does. And while Spirits isn’t the most adventurous work in his solo catalog, it’s another unceasingly pleasant, cheerful, melodic journey that will delight any Moody Blues fan, since this is about the closest thing they’ll get to a new Moodies album. Spirits actually does find Hayward working in a new mode; three tracks were recorded in Nashville with country/bluegrass players, and these tunes give some variety to the sound, although the songs in question are still pure Hayward. There are also some techno-tinged tracks at the end, including two new, modern spins on Moodies classic “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere.”
Special guest Kenny Loggins co-wrote and lends vocal support to “On the Road to Love”, but the dominating factors here are Hayward’s still-warm, still-strong voice and distinctive lead guitar, along with layers of acoustic strumming.
For fans of Hayward’s solo LPs and Moodies work, Spirits of the Western Sky will not let you down. It’s quality work from start to finish, and the tunes are hummable and memorable. Tempos are relaxed and orchestration is lush. The album is nicely recorded in the style of latter-day Moodies albums, mixed for maximum smoothness and listenability—perfect accompaniment to a glass of wine by the fire. It may not be blazingly new, but it’s always good news when Hayward shares his melodic magic with a new release.Buy Justin Hayward’s Spirits of the Western Sky CD on Amazon