This is an entirely self-produced album, however it is hard to differentiate from a major label release. There are some moments when a disparity in styles over different tracks detract slightly from the continuity of the record as an album and as an instrumental album it does, on very rare occasion, fade into the background.
The variety of this album is broad; from the titular opening track which hearkens to a combination of Dream Theater and King Crimson to the softer, more mellow track 8, 'Dreaming' which is more reminiscent of Flying in a Blue Dream, Riding Out Youth hits the more technical sides of prog, through blues to a softer more delicate sound.
Track 2, 'Code' stands out as something a little bit different. Starting off with a riff that really grinds, it then undergoes a syncopated metamorphosis with interesting uses of time signature and melody. It occasionally reverts to a recognisable 'chorus', before it moves again cascading along it's path and ending with a blazing guitar solo.
Track 5, 'Thoughts' is another foray into the lighter side of this album and after the slightly darker piano track 'Untitled' it is a refreshingly bluesy track that builds in proportion as it progresses. In my opinion, this is one of the more simple but subtle tracks on the album, and features yet more accomplished guitar work towards the end.
After that softer interlude we are hit with Track 6 'Elements' which again harks back to earlier prog with it's atonal introduction. It's almost bipolar in construction for the first two and a half minutes, shifting from the atonal chord section to lucid melodies and back again before it seems to resolve its self.
To end up we have Mind Matter. This is a track that manages to be complex and technical without losing any of it's edge and approachability. As a final track, it works really well and acts as a satisfactory conclusion to proceedings.
There are one or two drawbacks to an album such as this. As stated previously, the variety of styles hinders the continuity of the flow of the album, and the drum tracks do lack character in places (although this is to be expected with programmed drums). My only other minor criticism is that instrumental albums in general can become background sometimes, although in the case of Riding Out Youth, this is not by any means a common occurrence.
To conclude, Riding Out Youth is a well written, well produced album. Locke is an accomplished guitarist and songwriter, who, as a guitarist is reminiscent of Joe Satriani. The album is never in your face over-technical, nor is it monotonous at any point. The subtlety of the musicianship is what makes this album better than good and it demonstrates considerable talent and musical understanding on Locke's part. To consider then that this is a debut makes it an even more impressive achievement and that is why I give this album 8.5/10
I highly recommend checking his Bandcamp page to get a sample and buy his album. Keep up to date through his Facebook and his website. He is a true musician and one that certainly should get recognition.