Luke Sital–Singh
Fire Inside

Luke Sital–Singh — The Fire Inside [August 18, 2014]

     Luke Sital–Singh — The Fire Inside
♠  Luke Sital–Singh: The Fire Inside — believably vulnerable balladeering.
Location: New Malden, UK
Album release: August 18, 2014
Record Label: Parlophone/PLG UK Frontline
Duration:     46:21
01. Nothing Stays The Same      4:12
02. Greatest Lovers      4:13
03. Bottled Up Tight      3:20
04. 21st Century Heartbeat      3:25
05. Lilywhite      3:34
06. Nearly Morning      4:32
07. I Have Been A Fire      4:03
08. Everything Is Making You      3:16
09. Fail For You      4:16
10. We Don't Belong      3:53
11. Cornerstone      3:58
12. Benediction      3:39
© 2014 Parlophone

Posted by Ed "Gizzle" Nightingale; Score: 4/5
   In the words of Ned Stark: “Winter is coming”.  As the cold weather ushers in another season of picturesque, burnt orange landscapes, there’s no better soundtrack than singer–songwriter Luke Sital–Singh’s sepia acoustic strumming for a blustery autumnal day.
   ‘The Fire Inside’ comes off the back of a series of EPs (from which much of this album is taken), which led to a spot on this year’s BBC Sound of 2014 longlist.  Yes, he’s another guitar–playing troubadour, but his music is so sumptuous, nostalgiac and delicately melancholic, he cannot fail for you.
   As you’d expect, Sital–Singh began as a solo acoustic artist, but ‘The Fire Inside’ sees him expanding his sound to a full band for many of the tracks.  Yet far from the folky jigs of Mumford & Sons or the tear–soaked guitars of Bon Iver, the full band is merely an extension of his sound.  More upbeat tracks like Greatest Lovers, Everything Is Making You, We Don’t Belong and breakthrough single Bottled Up Tight still retain his raw sound, tinged with melancholia.  The stark live feel of the production only highlights this, all warm harmonies and shivering guitars.
   It’s the acoustic tracks that form the backbone to the album though.  Fail For You is simply stunning as it slowly blooms and unfurls with vocal harmonies and its heartbreaking chorus lyric — “I bought you the sky and the oceans too… the only thing I didn’t do was fail for you”.  At the core of the album is the tryptich of Lilywhite, Nearly Morning and I Have Been A Fire: the former centres on a piano riff that bares resemblance to Lana Del Rey’s Video Games; the second transports you to a frosty sunrise; the latter is a poignant and delicate depiction of a destructive relationship — “you were just a flower… gentle like a rose with charred and blackened toes”.
   It’s impossible not to fall for these songs, predominantly due to Sital–Singh’s vocals.  Whether purring in a soft falsetto or a gut–wrenching outpouring of emotion, it’s a powerful voice of anguish and vulnerability.  Forget the boring and derivative Tom Odell, or the similarly Brit Award loved Ben Howard — Luke Sital–Singh is the best singer–songwriter since Damien Rice.
Gizzle's Choice:
* Lilywhite
* I Have Been A Fire
* Fail For You
By Ludovic Hunter–Tilney; Score: **
♣   The singer–songwriter is a textbook example of young men crooning about love and heartbreak over inoffensive soft–rock.
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   “We all bleed, we all breathe and nothing stays the same,” Luke Sital–Singh sings. But some things do stay the same, namely the procession of sensitive young men crooning about love and heartbreak over inoffensive soft–rock.
   The Surrey singer–songwriter is a textbook example, his voice tremulous with longing, the strums of his guitar a blandly consoling comfort blanket.
   The occasional impassioned vocal breaks through, together with the odd unexpected musical effect such as the echoing guitar feedback that ignites “I Have Been a Fire”. But the flames are soon extinguished. ♣
♣   "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, 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."
In french:
♣   Un premier album d'indie folk pour ce jeune singer songwriter, de belles mélodies a découvrir.
Caroline Sullivan
The Guardian, Thursday 21 August 2014 23.05 BST; Score: ***
♣   As old lyrical chestnuts go, being held captive by "the fire inside" is as mundane as "making it through the rain", leading to low expectations of this debut. Yet Luke Sital–Singh, who was longlisted in the Sound of 2014 poll, has produced a record that defies its unpromising title. The Surrey singer–guitarist perches halfway between Tom Odell's softly–softly balladeering and Justin Vernon's heart–scraping orchestral folk: he's harrowing in his intensity, but writes crooning melodies that make the bitterest songs slip down smoothly. Saying that, The Fire Inside's main attribute isn't its lyrics, which are marinated in teen–poet philosophising ("It's all right to let your guard down/ Get your heart pounded/ We all bleed, we all breathe," is the chorus to Nothing Stays the Same — otherwise a strikingly emotional song in the mould of Damien Rice's The Blower's Daughter). It compensates in other areas, however: Sital–Singh is believably vulnerable on the misty lowlands of Fail for You, and on Benediction stakes out particularly anguished piano–dominated territory — a style he should develop. ♣
Review by: Mike Davies
Tony Clayton–Lea; Score: ****
Press:  Online — Morad Khokar Print — Paul Guimaraes
Agent: ROW Paul Wilson — USA & Canada Trey Many —
• “A new talent who already has the sound of greatness to him.” — The Sunday Times Culture |
“It’s a folk coup d’etat — all hail the new king” — The Line Of Best Fit |
After a succession of plaudits for his two independently released EPs as well as a string of triumphant festival performances including The Great Escape, Latitude, Cambridge Folk Festival, Secret Garden Party and Wilderness, Luke Sital–Singh is poised to introduce himself to his widest audience yet with his first release for Parlophone, the ‘Tornados’ EP.
Produced by Iain Archer (Jake Bugg), the ‘Tornados’ EP demonstrates Luke Sital–Singh’s captivating talents within a richer full–band production — a compelling combination of immersive, acutely–crafted songwriting combined with a vocal delivery that trembles with emotional resonance. Opening track ‘Nothing Stays the Same’ perfectly encapsulates these traits as it progresses from its stripped–back introduction into rich flourishes of instrumentation as his impassioned voice cracks with vulnerability.
Elsewhere, ‘Nearly Morning’ is far more intimate as choral vocal harmonies swell to the fore; the tender love song ‘Tornado Town’ lives up to his troubadour billing; and ‘How To Lose Your Life’ gradually escalates towards its rousing conclusion.
Born in New Malden, 25–year–old Luke Sital-Singh cites Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Josh Ritter as influences. His first two EPs ‘Fail For You’ and ‘Old Flint’ announced him as a major new talent and were followed by early support from Radio 1, 6 Music and XFM. Luke has toured solidly as support to The Staves, Martha Wainwright, Kodaline and Villagers, and also played a sold–out series of headline shows across London.

Luke Sital–Singh
Fire Inside