Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Album Review: Justin Hayward - Spirits Of The Western Sky

Justin Hayward returns to the music scene with his first album in yonks entitled Spirits In The Western Sky. It is a beautiful offering by the Moody Blues frontman.

To come to that conclusion you have to remember a few things about the music industry.

1. Musicians over 60 aren't supposed to make new music and if they do, it isn't supposed to be taken seriously.

2. Songs written by musicians over 60 aren't likely to be of the same caliber of the stuff they wrote 20 - 40 years ago.

That said, this is why Spirits  is worth the $15.00.

1.  Justin still has his voice, which many artists from the 60s can't say.

2. His writing is still good. No its not as good as the stuff he was writing during the days of The Core 7 (God I hate that classification of those albums)

Having given the album a listen, it can be deduced that many of these songs are throwbacks from past albums and projects.  "In Your Blue Eyes" is the lead single and the album's opener. Definitely something from the 90s.

"One Day, Someday" which is Justin at his sappy romantic best. This arrangements and the whole tone of this song scream View From The Hill. It is a strong and beautiful ballad.

"The Western Sky" is a little bit to long and more than a little bit boring.  Perhaps it is Justin's answer to fellow Moody, John Lodge's equally snoreworthy "Words You Say." The guitar is too simple. There is nothing about this song to catch your ear.

"The Eastern Sun" is exactly opposite. Again Justin delivers with a simple acoustic melody, but unlike "The Western Sky" Justin's vocal is full of emotion, and you get his full vocal range here. This song is Hayward at his best.

Jumping out of the acoustic mode is "On The Road To Love." This song is pure fun and the guitar is lively and it is co-written by Kenny Loggins. It makes you wonder if Justin is about to cut loose, footloose. Oh and don't forget these two words when you listen, EAR WORM!

The album slips back into its more adult contemporary/easy listening niche with "Lazy Afternoon." Justin is still pining for some lost love. Big sighs here. Is he trying to top "Words You Say" again?

"In The Beginning" is another gem. Every time you here a bit of electric guitar, you'll smile. Even if the songs are more than a bit slow, hearing Justin work the guitar's strings is enough.

One of the shining tracks is "Its Cold Outside Of Your Heart" done bluegrass style. This song was featured on The Moody Blue Grass Two Much Love. The original version, of course, was featured on The Present. Unlike a lot of songs that are reworked years later, the bluegrass version freshens the song up and makes it come alive again.

That's not the only song that gets reworked by Justin here, "Broken Dream" from View From The Hill however in this case, there isn't much of a change in the arrangement. The thing that you have to remember here, is that this new recording is done 17 years later, and Justin's voice is still just as good on the new version as the original.

What is most troubling on this album are the "Out There Somewhere" mixes. Techno/Dance Justin is a bit freaky and remixing this classic song and renaming it seems almost sacrilegious. The mix isn't all that interesting either and it certain isn't worth extending it to eight minutes.

"Captivated By You" is one of those songs that you won't be sure why you like it, but you will. Perhaps it has to do with Justin finding as many words that end in "ated" or maybe it is the killer guitar that seems almost out of place in this song, but whatever it is, you will like it.

"What You Resist Persists" is another bluegrass number and you have to wonder how Justin spits out those words throughout the song. It is quite the tongue twister.

Sure there are some misses on this album, but the songs that are good are very good and again, unlike some 60s artists, Justin's voice is still clear and pure. This album should be listened to and enjoyed by Moody fans and new comers to his music.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

moodymistress said...

Great review! :) I agree with basically every single thing you've said here. I haven't listened to the album that many times, but I did find it very enjoyable. I think my reactions to each song were very similar to yours. And I'm continually impressed by the fact that he never seems to write a song that isn't tuneful. (When I first heard the new version of "Broken Dream," by the way, for a few seconds I thought, "wait, did they just reuse the same vocal?" because his voice seriously was every bit as good as on the original.)