“Fear not. For fear itself is fed by fear, and all fears pass. Did no-one tell you so? Come take my hand, my friend, and we will peer into this fear’s abyss. And jump! And know.”
Genres are often a contentious point when it comes to music and some artists can get pigeon-holed in one genre when they often blur the boundaries between quite a few. Take The Round Window, I was contacted by founder member and vocalist Rich Lock with regard to a review of the band’s self-titled debut release and expected something with progressive rock leanings to hit my inbox but, low and behold, there is more of a classic rock edge to their glorious sound but they definitely do have a touch of progressiveness to their music as well. The band actually call their sound ‘widescreen rock’ as it straddles genres and defies easy classification.
I’ll tell you one thing, what I heard definitely made me want to investigate further…
The Round Window was formed in 2018, originally as a duo with Rich and Thomas Lock sharing vocals, guitars, and keyboards. Jack Lock joined on drums on 2020 and the line up was completed with David Brazington on guitar and Dietmar Schantin on bass. The album has been produced by Robin Armstrong (Cosmograf) with artwork by Paul Tippett (Frost*/ Black Star Riders).
The completion of the line up has allowed the band to make a deeper exploration of layers and textures on the eight songs on the album and to deliver a polished and very mature record that belies the fact it is their first one. Opening instrumental track The Window is like a prequel to the main story with its moody piano, textures from the guitar and keyboards and portentous drums and sets you up for the main event perfectly. Take My Hand is the first of two singles released from the album and is a quality rocking track with a catchy chorus. The rhythm section power along in perfect unison and Rich’s vocals, well harmonised, add a huge dollop of cool. Add in the uber-stylish guitar of David Brazington and you have one excellent piece of music. Among The Clouds is the second single from the album and has a more serious feel to it, an urgent riff and vocal get you on the edge of the seat and give a real sense of occasion to the song along with a touch of 90’s indie rock in places. The swirling keyboards are a particularly nice touch, it’s a real up-tempo track that has loads of mood swings and one seriously good guitar solo!
There’s a solemn tone to the opening of Victory, a very serious and dignified piece of music that gets under your skin. Rich’s reflective vocal is intense and leaves a wistful and melancholy aura above everything. The guitar, drums and bass then join in and add a contemplative and nostalgic atmosphere. Dave’s fiery, plaintive solo is a work of genius and actually left a lump in my throat and the beautiful flute of Angela Gordon almost tipped me over the edge with its amazing sentimentality, what a wonderful song! We are then treated to a slow, brooding masterpiece of music in the shape of Out Of Time, seven minutes of near perfect blues rock with a prog edge that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Rich’s soulful vocal, Jack’s measured drumming and Dietmar’s smooth bass are building blocks on what is a masterfully created piece of music but the icing on the musical cake is the burning, fiery and passionate guitar and ardent keyboards, what an absolute gem!
Nobody Home sees a return to the elegant, flowing rock of the two single releases, a well written and tightly performed song that needs no extravagance, just a really good piece of music with a really polished keyboard solo. Ethereal, exquisite and just utterly sublime, Avalon keeps the high quality songwriting coming. Gorgeous vocals and graceful music add up to deliver a dignified, simple piece of music with a feel of wonder at its core, simply beautiful. The final, and longest, track on the album is, perhaps, the most progressive. Another Chance builds slowly on Rich’s vocals and a halting piano line, backed by ghostly keyboards, before a guitar note, calming at first but then more urgent, segues in. The guitar then opens up with a heartfelt tone, sentimental and eloquent before Rich’s vocal returns and the song begins to flow quicker and with more urgency before, finally, the release valve is opened and off we go to a final triumphant conclusion.
A high quality release with wonderfully emotive songs and superb musicianship, this self-titled album may be The Round Window’s debut release but it shows a group of musicians who are already playing at a very high level and have creativity to burn. I can’t recommend it highly enough, this should be in everyone’s music collection…
Released 30th September, 2022.
Pre-order the CD from Gravity Dream here:
Or the mp3 at bandcamp: