Woodland Echoes

Nick Heyward

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Woodland Echoes Review

by Tim Sendra

In 2017, when he released Woodland Echoes, it had been a long time since Nick Heyward had released a solo album. The former Haircut One Hundred singer and songwriter built a sturdy solo career in the '80s and '90s, but the years that followed saw his style of sophisticated pop fall out of fashion somewhat. Enough so that record labels weren't exactly falling over themselves to sign guys like Heyward to deals anymore. Woodland Echoes is the result of Heyward going the D.I.Y. route, crowdfunding the record and working on his own timetable with his son helping out. Unsurprisingly, the album feels homemade and organic, with no nods to the modern musical world and Heyward sweetly running through a batch of songs that could have been made at any point over the last 30 years. His voice is as hale and hearty as ever, his songs are as equally jaunty and heartfelt as any he's written, and the sound of the album is simple and true like he's making the record for himself, sales be damned. While a great many of the songs fit the jangling pop template of his past work -- and tunes like "Love Is the Key by the Sea," "I Can See Her," and "I Got a Lot" have all the Beatlesque harmonic richness and deep romantic grace of his best work -- he throws in a few surprises among the familiar. He indulges in some big-band jazz on "Who," goes in for some twanging hillbilly sounds on "Mountaintop," and delivers a couple of stadium-size power pop rockers that could have been airlifted from his brief Brit-pop phase ("Perfect Sunday Sun," "Baby Blue Sky"). These slight detours don't stray too far and only serve to give the album a little more variety, not that it really needed it when classic Heyward songs like the steadfast ballad "For Always," the charming "The Stars," and "I Can See Her" make up the bulk. Woodland Echoes can't be called a return to form for Heyward because he never lost his form; it just went unheard for years. Call it a welcome return instead, because the world of pop music always needs songs this smart, tuneful, and unabashedly romantic.

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