Justin Hayward - Spirits of the Western Sky

by Kevin Wierzbicki

As the lead singer for the Moody Blues Justin Hayward not only helped shape the direction of prog rock's most important era (late '60s/early '70s), he also literally became the voice of the generation through such hits and underground standards as "Nights in White Satin," "Tuesday Afternoon" and "The Story in Your Eyes."

The good news is that Hayward's voice is still strong and instantly recognizable and while Spirits of the Western Sky is more aptly described as folk-y pop than it is as rock'n'roll, there's still plenty here for fans of past works to like.

"On the Road to Love," performed with guest Kenny Loggins on guitar and background vocals, rocks a little and includes an aah-and-ooh section that makes it very Moody-ish but most of the album, like "It's Cold Outside of Your Heart" and standout tracks "The Western Sky" and "The Eastern Sun" are much gentler and full of the thoughtful lyrics and heartfelt delivery that are hallmarks of Hayward's work.

With that in mind two appended remix versions of late Moodys hit "Out There Somewhere," both jacked-up to beat-happy dance club numbers that downplay Justin's voice, seem out of place here even though they are definitely cool. Otherwise, one of the new tunes here is called "Lazy Afternoon" and indeed Spirits of the Western Sky is a perfect soundtrack for mellowing out, any time of day.

Justin Hayward - Spirits of the Western Sky

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