Hailing from New Malden, birthplace of John Martyn, armed with acoustic guitar and the occasional piano, Luke Sital-Singh is following a similar troubadour pathway. The title track of his debut EP, Fail For You, earned comparisons to Fleet Foxes with its multi-tracked tremulous vocals and delicate, hymnal folk while the equally sparse accompanying songs, I Have Been A Fire among them, duly saw references to the likes of Justin Vernon and Jeff Buckley being wheeled out.
He followed this up with Old Flint, lead track, Bottled Op Tight, a rippling, warm-voiced finger-picked number with more fleshed out arrangements and fuller instrumentation while Nothing Stays The Same, from the Tornados EP (FRUK review here), was an uplifting anthemic carpe diem jangle with cascading choral harmonies and festival-friendly chorus that married Paul Simon, Damien Rice and Cat Stevens.
All of the above mentioned numbers now find their way on to his debut album, The Fire Inside, alongside single only release, the jubilant tumble of Greatest Lovers. Produced (mostly) by Jake Bugg knob-twiddler Ian Archer, it’s already met with some mixed reviews, the less enthused grudgingly noting the prevalence of catchy, infectious melodies, but declaring it repetitive and lacking in emotional depth. It’s a little hard to reconcile such accusations as you listen to these songs of joy and heartache, delivered in a dust-limned, cracked voice that often catches like a sob in the throat, notably so on album closer, Benediction, a hauntingly sparse piano ballad produced by Greg Wells, the quiveringly hymnal just-hold-on Nearly Morning (a demo version of which appeared on Tornados and is reprised in shorter but similarly stark acoustic guitar and keyboard format here) and preceding kindred spirit companion piece new number, Lilywhite where you may well discern a hint of Lennon mingling with the Bon Iver.
The rest of the new material takes a buoyant approach, the first arriving with 21st Century Heartbeat, a 60s folk-pop tinged number bubbling with a sense of optimism (“ I woke up hollow as an apple core, I’ve got so much purpose, I don’t know what for”) in a negative world, while elsewhere you’ll find the mid-tempo, strummed, harmony cooed, shuffling snare drum beat driven Everything Is Making You, We Don’t Belong, an almost Joel-like piano boogie that soars crashingly heavenwards on the title refrain as he sings “we can feel alone together”, and, somewhat atypical, the we-all-need-a-foundation themed Cornerstone, with its echoey distant vocal intro, persistent jogging beat and scuffed percussion.
On an aside, it’s worth mentioning Film Songs, an acoustic collection of soundtrack-featured numbers (currently – and frustratingly – only available via Spotify) he recorded while waiting for the album’s release, featuring The Shins’ New Slang (the massive hit from Garden State), Jackson Browne’s These Days, Springsteen’s The Wrestler (listen below), Radiohead’s Exit Music (For A Film), Paul Simon’s Sound of Silence and Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard and a lovely husked version of the waltzing evergreen You Always Hurt The One You Love. By way of a real obscurity, there’s also Strangers, a Dave Davies song from The Kinks 1970 Lola EP that found new lease of life in The Darjeeling Limited by Sital-Singh’s favourite director, Wes Anderson’s whose brother, Eric, designed the artwork (artwork posted on our Tumblr Blog here).
Review by: Mike Davies
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From The Fire Inside – Bottle Up Tight
From ‘Film Songs’ – The Wrestler (Bruce Springsteen)
Visit http://lukesitalsingh.com/ for details of September Tour Dates.