A move to California hasn’t significantly altered Luke Sital-Singh’s sound.
Luke Sital-Singh’s debut album ‘The Fire Inside’ caused a bit of a stir here in the UK as it was recognised as bringing a breath of fresh air to the singer-songwriter genre. While he has established a fan base and has been able to place his music across various media, he hasn’t yet been able to significantly build on his promising career start. This may be because while his subsequent albums have maintained the quality of the debut, they haven’t managed to show the same level of musical innovation. There have been charges around ‘Dressing Like A Stranger’, including Luke Sital-Singh’s move to California post his last album but pre-pandemic, and he has acquired a rubber-bridged guitar that he says brought added inspiration to what is essentially his COVID album. He subsequently worked with fellow British singer-songwriter Dan Croll as co-producer and Tchad Blake as mixing engineer, which ensured that while this may be a COVID related album, there was also a collaborative approach involved.
Lead and title track ‘Dressing Like A Stranger’ is also a signature track in that it was the first track Sital-Singh wrote with the help of his new guitar, and he claims it helped him write other songs for the album. While ‘Blind Missiles’ is very melodic, and a co-write with Dan Croll, with Luke Sital-Singh’s signature vocals, the lyrics are quite dark dealing with the polarisation of society and reflecting his experiences following his move to America. That there is a track titled ‘California’ is not too surprising, and the sound invokes everyone’s impression of what California is like, while the lyrics profess that Luke Sital-Singh is the same person he was in the UK. Christina Perri adds vocal harmonies to ‘Rather Be’ with its piano and cello. The tempo moves up a notch on ‘Can’t Get High’ which is a co-write with Old Sea Brigade. Acoustic guitar and gentle vocals characterise ‘Me & God’ which is an atheist’s discourse on God. The play on words that is ‘All Night Stand’ hints that it is an exploration of marriage starting from an unmarried perspective. ‘Summer Somewhere’ is his reflection on a Californian summer from a British perspective. According to Sital-Singh ‘Forever Endeavor’ is the third song in a marriage trilogy that goes back to his debut album. Wishful thinking is behind ‘Wiser Too’ which hopes for a better understanding of everything by everybody. The final track ‘The Walk’ uses the analogy of a tightrope through the woods for the walk of life, maintaining Luke Sital-Singh’s reputation for not being afraid to tackle the big questions.
There have been changes to Luke Sital-Singh’s music, which include a new record label, Nettwerk Records, while the constraints of his very personal lyrics and soft vocals remain. What is clear is that ‘Dressing Like A Stranger’ will be welcomed by his existing fans, and may even attract some new ones. The real question though is whether it is sufficiently different enough to bring in a substantial number of new fans while still maintaining his devoted fanbase and on that question, the jury is still out. It is everything you would expect from a Luke Sital-Singh album which is also a potential problem after 8 years of album releases. If you are already a committed fan then this is probably a must-listen 8 out of 10 album, for new and less committed listeners it is a 6.
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