CD Review: Justin Hayward – Spirits ... Live – Live at the Buckhead Theatre, Atlanta

CD Review: Justin Hayward – Spirits ... Live – Live at the Buckhead Theatre, Atlanta
Eagle Rock Entertainment
All Access Rating: A-

Justin Hayward - Spirits  
Justin Hayward's choice of guitars for his 2013 tour in support of his beguiling solo album Spirits of the Western Sky made all the sense in the world.

For the first time ever, the legendary Moody Blues' singer/guitarist decided to bring his "song writing" guitars on the road, thinking that perhaps they might help recreate onstage the intimacy and warmth of his music room at home.

Apparently, Hayward was on to something. Spirits ... Live – Live at the Buckhead Theatre, Atlanta is a pristine concert recording of Hayward and friends performing an uplifting and gorgeously rendered mix of a few Moody Blues classics and newer Hayward originals with sincerity and romantic idealism. Ever the tenderhearted optimist, his acoustic strumming giving off a golden glow as his songs swell with emotion, Hayward still has an expansive voice capable of carrying his lovelorn pleas to heaven. Though slightly weathered, making his guileless delivery here more approachable than ever, it emits purity and light, Hayward rejecting despair to remain open to enchantment and deep connections. This troubadour still believes in love, and so do his fans, who he seems to pull ever closer in such a lovely setting, which can be seen on the DVD and Blu-ray versions of this live release.

Drifting ever so gently away from the haunting, mist-shrouded progressive-rock readings of the Moody Blues' staples "Nights in White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon," which opens the brilliantly rendered set with soul-searching introspection, Hayward and acoustic guitarist Mike Dawes and keyboardists/backing vocalists Julie Ragins and Alan Hewitt mostly engage in affecting, wistful and often sunny folk-pop throughout Spirits ... Love, with "In Your Blue Eyes" and "One Day, Someday" sounding especially dreamy on this August night in 2013.

And though they run somewhat wilder through a jaunty, joyous version of "Your Wildest Dreams," it's the twinkling magic of "Land of Make Believe," the winsome natures of "It's Up to You/Lovely to See You" and "I Know You're Out There Somewhere," and the spare, natural beauty of "The Eastern Sun" that benefit from simple, quiet instrumentation, the well-crafted melodies therein allowed to shine on their own without gaudy embellishment. So does the country-tinged "It's Cold Outside of Your Heart," an unexpected gem nostalgic for old Nashville but still English to the core.

Maybe Hayward is the musical equivalent of "Chicken Soup for the Soul," but Hayward's also always had a gift for writing timeless music that speaks of love and loss and triumph over darkness. In that respect, it's a refreshing departure from the noise and violence of a world obsessed with flash and scandal at the expense of innocence and hope.
– Peter Lindblad

1 comment:

  1. It's "Nights in White Satin", not 'knights'