A sad realization of the technological advances of today is the fact most kids will never know the glory of gazing into the warm embrace of a radio light and dial, uncertain of what would come next, and the excitement of whatever poured out of the speakers; the escape.
It is this feeling that inspired Dave Rowntree’s debut solo-record Radio Songs. The film and TV composer, podcaster, light aircraft pilot/instructor, lawyer, former Labour councillor, and drummer for a little gig called Blur, like many of us, found warmth in the embrace of unseen waves travelling through the air, into our homes, and into the formation of who we’d become. As Rowntree put it, “Radio has been a constant for me, it’s been one of the steadying factors in my life.”
Laying on the floor, slowing my breathing, I ventured into the sonic landscape of Radio Songs. The ten-track debut is a sonic journey traversing meaningful blends of orchestral nods, electronic undercurrents, and floating lyrical expressions. Opener “Devil’s Island” quickly begins to feel familiar in its complex, tonally deep layers. “1000 Miles” weighs heavy on the reflective tones of static memory and longing desire, both instrumentally and lyrically. “Machines Like Me” explores the confines of the digital expression with heartfelt execution. “Who’s Asking” is an audible cloud-break that draws the record to a close with orchestrated simplicity, overlaid in subtle fuzz, revealing a bright future and warm farewell. Throughout, Dave Rowntree’s Radio Songs strikes an immensely intimate chord for those who recall the beautifully simple explorations of audible discovery and delivers and heavy wave of fulfillment packed with emotion and release.
Radio Songs’ is a poetically down-tempo exploration of a deeply-rooted love for the worldly sounds in radio, mesmerizingly executed, contrasting expectations, yet refueling the warmth of connection between oneself and the music. It is remarkable Dave Rowntree has waited this long, not for a debut solo record, but to reveal to the world his capabilities as an independent artist in his own name. Radio Days debuts on Cooking Vinyl January 20, 2023.