Spirits of the Western Sky
The man who gave the world "Nights in White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon" with The Moody Blues brings that warm, comforting voice to this 15-track solo album, which he's been collecting songs for since the late '90s. The unhurried pace ensures that nothing is tossed off or not vetted for quality. It's a personal album recorded in Italy and Nashville, referring to Hayward's love of the American music that inspired him as a child. His voice is a modern marvel, and he brings the best out of it for the Donovan-esque "The Eastern Sun," where his double-tracked vocals hit Brian Wilson–like highs. Cowritten with Kenny Loggins, "On the Road to Love" features both of them in a spirited rocker that's as philosophical as you might expect from a member of The Moody Blues. "Lazy Afternoon" further fulfills expectations with what sounds like a companion piece to Paul Simon's "The Dangling Conversation." Three songs recorded in Nashville—"It's Cold Outside Your Heart," "What You Resist Persists," and "Broken Dream"—add a bluegrass flavor that's truer to classic country music than most current mainstream country.