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Simon Townshend - Profile

  by Lisa Torem

published: 8 / 11 / 2016

Simon Townshend - Profile


Lisa Torem examines British singer-songwriter Simon Townshend's albums, 2012's ‘Looking Out Looking in’ and 2014's ‘She Asked Me’, both of which he has re-released in remastered and expanded editions on his own Stir label

Simon Townshend began his musical career at nine when he was enlisted to join the chorus of the Who rock opera ‘Tommy,’ composed by his brother, Pete Townshend. His early recording from the 1980s, ‘Sweet Sound’, showed off his lusty vocals and flair for penning breathtaking melodies. Simon has been going strong since, moonlighting as a solo performer and essential member of the Who, and he is one of the rare acts that can translate fully his live performance to the studio, without compromise. ‘Looking Out Looking In’, his 2012 album, has recently been remastered. Because Simon frequently performed solo shows prior to the Who concerts, his many international fans are already familiar with this collection — it was already deep, nuanced and singable, but the new version is even brighter and more enhanced with instrumental embellishment. Plus, there are two bonus tracks: ‘She Asked Me’ and ‘I’m the Answer’ featuring his good friend and musical cohort, singer/songwriter Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam). Delightful guest twists by his drummer son, Ben, and forceful punctuation courtesy of Who bassist Pino Palladino earmark ‘She Asked Me’ too. ‘I’m The Answer’ also enjoys celebrated guests: percussionist Mark Brzezicki and Danny Thompson (bass). Everything about this CD is intense, beginning with the stunning, palpable black and white photograph on the cover, where Simon (and his shadow) lean curiously in front of a brick wall. He’s wearing oversized shades and a great coat. His no-nonsense demeanour sets the tone for this evocative recording. Including the bonus tracks, ‘Looking Out Looking in’ contains thirteen fierce ballads. Besides tributing his six-string best mate on the sizzling ‘Electric Friend,’ Simon spends the rest of his time celebrating the delirious effects of everlasting romance. ‘Stay’ and ‘Forever and a Day’ are songs destined to be classic; Simon’s subtle phrasing and cutting edge chords cut right to the chase. ‘Bed of Roses’ makes excellent use of his dirge-like mandolin progression, but here he struggles with remorse. ‘There’s a Girl’ has a sincerity that’s just plain hard to find in this harried, high-tech world. Even if they had not been remastered, these songs would still stand out as some of Simon Townshend’s most heartfelt renderings, but why not go for the top? ‘Denial’, his 2014 album, has also been remastered for Simon Townshend’s own label, Stir. Again, there are thirteen songs, including two bonus tracks. ‘Gone’ and ‘Denial’ are almost the same length — these very sensitive stories require the time allotted to develop the tearful themes. ‘Time Bomb’ also has a back story that makes the temperature rise. When Simon sings ‘Leaving This Town,’ you get a strong sense of the protagonist’s angst and loneliness, but also his adaptability and resilience. ‘Saving Grace’ was inspired by a family incident, which the seasoned songwriter handles delicately, tastefully and with compassion. And perhaps ‘Heal’ is the song which binds these personal stories together… Bonus tracks, ‘inspiration’ and ‘Meet in a Dream’ airlift the listener to an alternative dimension; but that seems to be what Simon Townshend does best: transform those around him.

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Simon Townshend - Profile

Simon Townshend - Profile

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Interview (2016)
Simon Townshend - Interview
British singer-songwriter Simon Townshend speaks to Lisa Torem about his solo career, studio work and touring on 'The Who Hits 50' tour
Interview (2015)
Interview (2012)

live reviews

Martyrs, Chicago, 12/5/2015
Simon Townshend - Martyrs, Chicago, 12/5/2015
Super talent Simon Townshend played a generous set of his classics as well as tracks from new album, ‘Denial’ at Chicago’s Martyrs
Martyrs, Chicago, 28/11/2012


Looking Out, Looking In (2013)
Emotive and versatile seventh album from British singer-songwriter, Simon Townshend

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