During his solo career (which has pretty much paralleled his career as Moody Blues singer-songwriter-guitarist) Justin Hayward has occasionally had to weather criticism that his solo work didn't sound like his Moodies work. Whether it should is open for debate.
You can't escape the fact that it is Hayward's voice, guitar, and lyrics that have dominated the Moody Blues catalog. In that respect, it would be hard for a Hayward solo album to not be similar to a Moody Blues album. On this project, however, there are a few songs done in styles that would not be characteristic of that venerable band.
We don't need no stinkin' genres
Like many artists who are long past being bound by the need for recognition or the dictates of label executives, Hayward doesn't seem to be worried about what genre this album might neatly fit into. That's good, because there isn't one.
In a few songs (three, to be exact) Hayward injects some country music influence, but this is not a country album. In even more songs, he performs to lush orchestral arrangements, but even though that is characteristic of his work with the band, Spirits of the Western Sky can also not be neatly stuffed into whatever genre stereotype to which you might try to assign the Moody Blues (and good luck with that!)
Even though it is pleasantly devoid of a definable pigeon hole, the album does have a predominant mood, which I would describe as wistful. Just look at some the song titles: "One Day, Someday" and "Lazy Afternoon" and "Broken Dream." Wistful. Clearly, Hayward was looking inward as he wrote these songs and, while they generally wind up on an optimistic note, the wistfulness is still there.
One day, Hayward writes in the liner notes, he and Kenny Loggins were touring at the same time, and wound up in the same hotel. "We had a great day playing guitar together and we came up with 'On The Road To Love'," says Hayward. It is Loggins we hear singing backup and playing rhythm guitar on that track.
Hayward explains that some of his inspiration came from Anne Dudley, the composer he engaged to create the orchestrations. Dudley, who won an Academy Award for her musical score for The Full Monty, "is one of the true greats, in the same rarefied class of orchestrators as Peter Knight, who was such an inspiration in my early Moody Blues days."
If you simply can't control yourself and just have to make this album fit some arbitrary mold, try soft rock. But don't be surprised if, after listening to it, you find yourself simply referring to it as Justin Hayward music.
CD Track List
1. "In Your Blue Eyes"
2. "One Day, Someday"
3. "The Western Sky"
4. "The Eastern Sun"
5. "On The Road To Love"
6. "Lazy Afternoon"
7. "In The Beginning"
8. "It's Cold Outside Of Your Heart"
9. "What You Resist Persists"
10. "Broken Dream"
11. "Captivated By You"
12. "One Day, Someday" (Alternate, Extended Version)
14. "Out There Somewhere"
15. "Out There Somewhere" (Raul Rincon Remix)
Release date: February 26, 2013
Review date: February 28, 2013
Available on CD, MP3
Disclosure: A review copy of the CD was supplied by Kayos Productions on behalf of Eagle Rock Entertainment. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.