Looking Out Looking In
Label: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Released: November 6, 2012
Reviewed: November 4, 2012
With his father a big-band jazz veteran, his brother (Pete Townshend, of The Who) a certifiable rock legend, and his son an up-and-coming drummer, Simon Townshend has lived his whole life within music. At age nine, he contributed background vocals to The Who’s 1969 Rock Opera Tommy. His six solo albums—Among Us (1997), Animal Soup (1999), Bare Bodies Bare Assets (2000), Ages (2000), simontownshendis (2002) and Something New (2011)—were all self-produced. In 2005, he was part of The Casbah Club with Bruce Foxton (The Jam/Stiff Little Fingers) and Mark Brzezicki (Big Country), which resulted in Venustraphobia. He’s performed with Jeff Beck, Pearl Jam, and Roger Daltrey and was onstage with The Who at the 2010 Super Bowl Halftime Show.
Known for his acoustic and electric guitar as well as mandolin, Simon Townshend has lent his talent to The Who and all of its tributary solo projects, in addition to carving out a well-respected body of work on his own. On Looking Out Looking In, he has enlisted his son Ben Townshend (drums) and Tony Lowe (lead guitar, bass, piano). This collaboration – Simon’s vocal delivery and instrumental effervescence, Tony’s blistering guitar and buoyant bass, and Ben’s dynamic drumming – gives this album a warm and organic tone.
Looking Out Looking In contains a rock flavor, but is sharply contrasted by its unerring pop smarts, and sophisticated melodic inventions. Whether it’s his string arrangement on Still Love or how his mandolin fuels Bed Of Roses, there’s an emotional vibrancy at work here that makes a track like She Asked Me, for instance, strike a chord deep into the human condition. Of course, there’s plenty of time to rock it like on Electric Friend.
Boomerocity favorites on this disc are:
Stay: Well written, great guitar licks and beautifully engineered, this tune is the Boomerocity favorite.
I like the title cut primarily due to the genius of its “new country” crossover appeal. If this tune can break into the country market, Simon will have a broad new base of fans to adore him. Just sayin’ . . .
Make It – the final track on the album – is actually a close-second favorite to Stay, and for all the same reasons.
Simon will be on tour again with The Who this winter.