Album Review: Luke Sital-Singh – Time is a Riddle

By on Tuesday, 9th May 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Steve GullickLuke Sital-Singh Time is a Riddle album cover

We live in an age of quickly changing technologies and the reality that our fast-paced lives are intertwined with them. However, there are some people who are trying to hold on to time-honoured traditions and processes so they can be passed on to future generations. In Britain, there’s also a whole Slow Movement artisans are taking part in. Bristol-based singer/songwriter Luke Sital-Singh was naturally attracted to these craftspeople, his fiercely independent nature nicely aligning with their goals. On ‘Time is a Riddle’, his sophomore full-length effort out this Friday, he eyes up the difficulties in relationships with both maturity and grace. It’s been 3 years since his emotionally rich and well-received debut album for Parlophone in 2014, ‘The Fire Inside’.

For this record, Luke Sital-Singh set off for the West Irish town of Donegal, recording the songs in his own terms with ex-Villagers touring band member and producer Tommy MacLaughlin. Local Irish musicians were recruited to fill out the band; completion of the tracks took place over a swift 10 days, recorded live and without heavy overdubbing. Sital-Singh wanted to embrace “playing and singing at the same time in this lovely big live room, with so much bleed, just the way records used to be made”, as far away from the cumbersome, unpleasant process making ‘The Fire Inside’ as he could get. His talented lino printmaker wife Hannah Cousins even contributed the album’s beautiful cover art that looks reminiscent of days gone by.

The result is a collection of songs of incredible emotional depth that will undoubtedly age well long after the new synth controllers we consider exciting now are deemed old news. The singer/songwriter admits ‘Innocence’ is unusually optimistic for him: it’s sweepingly gorgeous, as if you’re walking through the mists of time, the ivories twinkling alongside Luke Sital-Singh’s uplifting vocals. ‘Hunger’, which we previously featured in as this previous Video of the Moment, appears to be a tender song about overcoming depression, with the lyrics “finally I get to see the light breaking through the cracks”, and the pushing forward in each day with “even though I know it gets harder and harder / to live like the wind’s at your back”. Another previously unveiled number, single ‘Killing Me’, is the artist’s retelling of his own grandmother’s poignant remembrances of and feelings of loss towards her late spouse. Whether the subject matter is life or death, Sital-Singh has a deft hand in conveying emotion and in a way that comes across entirely as genuine.

On his newest single ‘Oh My God’, Luke Sital-Singh pledges his steadfast loyalty to his partner. On the almost dirge ‘Slow Down’, he breaks down his feelings quite simply: “slow down / you’re my love, darling / that’s enough, darling”. Album standout ‘Cynic’, full of beautiful soulful harmonies and heart-wrenching yelps, sees the songwriter trying to discount faith and any certainty of the road that lies ahead. He tries to convince himself “love is just chemicals in my brain”, before his full-on disbelief in the power of love: “I don’t know where I stand / the ground beneath is quicksand / the laws of physics bend when you touch my hand”. A much needed moment of contrast is proffered in ‘Rough Diamond Falls’, which has a harder, bluesier feel that benefits from electric guitar twangs and gospel vocal harmonising.

Luke Sital-Singh has the kind of smoky voice that works well with the folky, singer/songwriter style he chose early on his career, inspired by the likes of Damien Rice and Ryan Adams. While one could argue that the South London-bred artist never steps out of his comfort zone on ‘Time is a Riddle’, as the saying goes, when it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

8/10

‘Time is a Riddle’, Luke Sital-Singh’s second album, is out this Friday, the 12th of May, on Raygun Records/Red Essential. He will be on tour this month in the UK starting tomorrow, the 9th in Tobermory, through to the 26th in Exeter before dates on the Continent. His support act will be Northern Ireland’s Ciaran Lavery. We’ve been told that he’s made short films with glass artists, denim designers and more from the Slow Movement, and these videos will be unveiled soon. To read more of TGTF’s coverage on Sital-Singh, go here.

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