‘Time is a Riddle’ is a hugely appropriate title for Luke Sital-Singh’s new album, which follows up his 2014 debut ‘The Fire Inside’. Released via Raygun Records and Red Essential, it’s an album that examines the nature and concept of time and probes at every element of a successful (or not so successful) relationship. Lead singles ‘Hunger’ and ‘Killing Me’ have already proven to be favourites on Radio 1, Radio 2 and Spotify.
‘Still’ opens the album and begins as a tender love song as Luke sings about how when ‘the hours soften, the heavens open. One look in your eyes and I know I’m almost home’ and then goes on to celebrate light coming up. However, his anxieties soon start to creep up as he admits ‘something in my mind is scared’. Following this is the altogether janglier and Dylan-esque ‘Oh My God’ which finds Luke revealing how hard he finds it to be himself sometimes. It’s a pining love song for those who find the perfect person but never the perfect time to get together: ‘Tell me why is it so hard to see you standing right in front of me’. As the acoustic strums bed around Luke’s voice, there’s a real vulnerability that is perfectly summed up when he reveals ‘I’m standing here naked’. ‘Until the Night is Done recalls Sharon Van Etten and will tug at your heartstrings as Luke explains how he found a letter from a previous lover mere hours before they were due to get married. It also has a chorus that deserves huge crowd singalongs: ‘I’ve been walking half-asleep, I feel safer when I’m dreaming. The bigger part of me wants to burn the world away.’
This album was recorded live in Donegal with Tommy McLaughlin from Villagers and this leaves an authentic, lasting impact on the hugely emotional songs. ‘Rough Diamond Falls’ is Luke doing his best Ryan Adams impression with slide guitar and country elements very much in favour. The crashing drums add extra depth as Luke discusses all kinds of big themes: ‘I discovered a place where the body never dies’; ‘All the food on your tongue’s everlasting but nothing tastes quite right’. There’s a confessional tone to ‘Cynic’ as Luke explains how he feels guilty about the fact he never lets anyone too close and seemingly laments the fact that ‘There is an opening. I can feel you getting in’. This guilty feeling continues throughout ‘Innocence’ and this is another song that isn’t afraid to ask big questions about who we are and where we come from. Luke explains how he was ‘made to exist with a heart, with a fist’ before then going on to plead with the subject ‘don’t go growing up’.
The penultimate ‘Killing Me’ takes a look into the future as Luke explains how his great-grandkids are smiling how he used to and how, even though he’s managing to enjoy life, he misses his love. It opens with the line ‘Sweetheart, would you wake up today? I promise you would recognise my face. I want to show you how I’ve grown up in this place’ before then confessing ‘it’s killing me you’re not here with me. I’m living happily but feeling guilty’. It’s poignantly sung and you might need to get an excuse ready for why your eyes are puffy (worth noting we’re moving into hay fever season).
‘Slow Down’ provides a fitting finale as Luke first explains how ‘I’ve been building something big in my heart, building a rocket ship, something glorious to fly us away, but I can’t ever pilot it’. He then follows this well-intentioned but ultimately fruitless attempt at providing for his other half with the candid confession ‘you’re my love, darling. It’s enough, darling’ over atmospheric and slightly otherworldly music that is reminiscent of Mercury Rev’s calmer moments or Bat for Lashes’ early material. Both expressive and emotional, this is a record you should let into your life. Time may be a riddle, but listening to this record is a no-brainer.
Buy Luke Sital-Singh’s ‘Time is a Riddle’ here.