Ray Thomas

Hopes, Wishes & Dreams

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Ray Thomas' second solo album isn't as ambitious as its predecessor, but it is overall a more pleasing release, sounding more in line with his lighter work as a member of the Moody Blues, as well as taking some unexpected stylistic turns. In place of the lush orchestrations and oversized arrangements that characterized parts of his earlier album, From Mighty Oaks, the sound here is closer to the early-'70s Moody Blues, with guitarists John James and John Jones getting lots of room to shine. Additionally, Thomas is in excellent voice throughout -- indeed, the singing here is perhaps the best of his career, supported at times by his own overdubbing as well as Helen Chappelle, Barry St. John, Liza Strike, Nicky James, John James, and John Jones. He also offers a generally lighter touch as a composer -- the songs are honest and heartfelt though mostly (with the notable exception of the closer, "The Last Dream") not self-consciously profound or serious. "Keep on Searching" is a personal confessional that's also a piece of broad, brassy good-time music with a great beat, displaying elements of soul, while "Carousel" is a seemingly silly, lighthearted throwaway number with some serious statements buried amid its swirling keyboards (courtesy of Mike Moran). And the relatively reflective "In Your Song," "Migration," and "We Need Love" might have easily passed muster on a Moody Blues album, which is what most of the people buying this album at the time would have been looking for in the first place. Most of the songs are collaborations between Thomas and his longtime friend Nicky James, who also sings and plays percussion here. This is also one of the best-sounding records to come from the Moody Blues' orbit, and is proof of the value of the time they put into building Threshold Studios.

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