“The True Beauty Of Music Is That It Connects People”
I have made many connections through music and met many people who have become lifelong friends through an appreciation of all that is good about it. One of those people is Richard Lock, the vocalist from Essex band The Round Window who reached out to me about reviewing the band’s debut release and the rest, as they say, is now history as they gear up to release their sophomore creation.
The Round Window are an Essex based 5 piece playing widescreen rock, drawing from a wide range of influences. This, their second album, ‘Everywhere & Nowhere’ was recorded with Robin Armstrong as producer from November ’22 to June ’23. The album contains eight songs that cover topics of conflict and duality, both on a personal and wider level. the album is, by turns, both hopeful and melancholy.
Richard Lock (vocals), Thomas Lock (keyboards, vocals), Jack Lock (drums, vocals), David Brazington (guitar) and Dietmar Schantin (bass) create a signature sound that was a huge characteristic of their self-titled debut release, an album which I called, “A high quality release with wonderfully emotive songs and superb musicianship.”
I had a chat with Richard and he had this to say about the new release;
“We had a lot more time with this one to work on textures and sounds and the songs were more written with the full lineup in mind. Robin (Armstrong) was involved from the start as well which really helped in building up the layers. I think you’re right with the feel as well (I’d said that it was slightly deeper than the last album, more wistful and melancholy) – it’s not a concept album by any stretch of the imagination but there’s more consistency with the themes and emotions. For me, it flows a lot better than the debut. It’s not a criticism of the first album because it was more “simply” written but this one needed that step up in sound.“
So, a lot to live up to then but I knew, on the strength of their debut release, that this talented set of musicians definitely had the skill set to deliver…
‘Everywhere & Nowhere’ is another hugely impressive collection of songs from this accomplished band and opens with the ten minute mini-epic The Tides, a stirring song where guitar, keyboards, bass and drums deliver a combination of classic AOR with added dashes of prog sensibility. The glue that holds everything together are Richard’s highly distinctive vocals. His earnest delivery takes something very good and just lifts it to another level that, added to the evocative delivery of the music, makes this exciting outfit one of the best around at the moment. It’s high impact music delivered with more than a touch of flair, just take the mid section of the track where everything calms down as Thomas delivers a glorious piano refrain that just warms your heart before the evocative vocals join in, it’s genius. Everywhere & Nowhere is another excellent piece of music. The title track has a wonderful rhythm guitar playing that gives the track a real flow and the rhythm section are as superb as ever. This quasi AOR/Prog crossover sound has the basics that make a great song and a memorable chorus is one of them and this track has a cracker. One of the additional highlights is the fiery guitar solo from David which, along with the snazzy keyboards, adds real style to what is already a quality piece of music. The wistful and emotive All Roads Lead Home slows things down a bit, it’s a wonderfully affective and touching song that really hits deep. Richard’s vocal has a more melancholy edge and the music is refined and dignified. as it seems to meander along like a bubbling brook as time almost stands still. The repeated refrain of ‘All these Roads…’ has a longing and passion, as does the superb guitar solo, it’s a heartwarming song that leaves a bit of moisture in the eye…
I have to admit that I am a huge fan of the saxophone in any type of music so to hear it smoothly delivered at the start of the dynamic Resist put a huge smile on my face. This upbeat, energetic track would be chart worthy material, if we were back in the 80’s and it’s one of the highlights of the album for me and not just because of the glorious sax playing! The powerfully compelling music and charismatic vocal just show how far this band have come. Holes opens with some haunting keyboards before Richard’s restrained vocal joins in. There’s a simmering tension sitting just underneath the surface of this laid back piece of music, the guitar has a fantastic echoing effect to it and the song just oozes confidence and sophistication, AOR infused prog of the highest quality. A plaintive vocal and pared back acoustic guitar ushers in the nostalgic feeling Ghosts. This contemplative piece has a yearning and sorrow deep at its core which can be heard in Richard’s searching vocal and the dreamlike feel to the music, especially those oh so expressive keyboards. This track adds even more prog to the AOR and does remind me a bit of the great neo-prog of the 1980’s, just with added layers of class and sophistication.
The penultimate track on the album, Parabellum, opens with a keyboard sound that I can only describe as being very similar to Faithless, especially the opening to that band’s track Insomnia (bet you never thought you’d get that reference Richard?). It is by a long way the most progressive track on the album and quite possibly the most intricate and involved. Again, there a touches of 80’s neo-prog but The Round Window has taken that influence and definitively made it their own on this rather imposing and inspiring song. The music is taken up another notch (if that was even possible!), just check out the soulful guitar solo and piano, which turns into a heavenly musical duet, and you will see what I mean. A somber but oh-so moving piece of music that leaves its mark long after it has finished. All great albums should finish on a high and the band don’t disappoint here as the sumptuous Epilogue is delivered. A rather contemplative, laid back opening leads the song in with calm and grace and then there’s more of David’s soaring guitar and Thomas’ elegant keyboards before this heartfelt song takes on a more passionate tempo. It is five minutes of grace, passion and warmth that closes out on possibly David’s most fervent solo of all.
‘Everywhere & Nowhere’ takes everything that was great about the band’s debut and just lifts it several levels. It is lush, classy, insightful and so melodically impressive and is an album that The Round Window should be mightily proud of. Difficult second album? not for these highly accomplished musicians!
Released 8th December, 2023.
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