Spirits Of A Western Sky

Justin Hayward

Justin Hayward - lead singer, guitarist and front man of the Moody Blues for over 45 years, says of Spirits Of A Western Sky, his 2013 solo album: "Every track is truly from my heart." Hearing his famous voice and guitar on the 13 songs, you become convinced the man is doing exactly that - playing from his heart. There is a lot of territory covered from the writer of such notables as "Tuesday Afternoon," "Question," Your Wildest Dreams," and "I Know You're Out There Somewhere," but Spirits Of A Western Sky takes some off-road excursions as well.

"In Your Blue Eyes" opens the disc, a decidedly AOR track lead by soft toms and Hayward's signature acoustic strumming. "The Western Sky" is a long and expansive cinemascope featuring acoustic guitar and harmonics, plucking strings, no real chorus and a great female vocal backing by Tracy Ackerman. All these Hayward touchstones make this not only a very Moody Blues sounding piece but maybe the best track on the CD.

"The Eastern Sun" is a sweet love song with a rolling acoustic guitar and a vocal that really hasn't changed all that much after nearly five decades. "On The Road To Love" is a commercial sounding electric guitar bop, sounding a lot like one of those modern Moody Blues' tunes, enhanced greatly by a hooky chorus with Kenny Loggins (he co-wrote the song with Hayward). "Captivated By You" is another lush love song with some nice touches, a minor bridge and Anne Dudley's orchestration.

Much is being made of the country and blue grass influences here and there are some tunes that certainly have that flavor. "In The Beginning" features some countrified lead guitar. "What You Resist Persists" and "Broken Dream" both meander round the old campfire with dobros, fiddles and banjos in the mix. The former has a very specific country feel, its lyric adding to that tone, and somehow becoming one of the better tunes on the CD.

There's a truly sweet instrumental called "Rising" that segues into the funky remix of "Out There Somewhere." This dance remix works OK of the famous Moody Hit, but the Raul Rincon remix that follows and ends the CD uses so little of the original song, it's difficult to see how it's all connected or why it's even included.

In many ways Spirits Of A Western Sky is what you'd expect from Justin Hayward, and that is a very good thing for sure. In other ways, the country vibe that runs through a few of these songs makes for a nice welcome shift. It's gratifying to see an artist expand his horizons beyond the comfort zone, even if it's sometimes hard to appreciate. In this case, it elevates the man's prodigious talents.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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