After a string of EPs and singles over the last two years and some ten years since penning his first song, Luke Sital-Singh's eagerly anticipated debut album is finally here. Having dropped his love of Slipknot since listening to more Damien Rice, the once petulant New Malden born graduate of Brighton Institute Of Modern Music is gradually making his way into mainstream consciousness. Having been championed by the likes of Zane Lowe and Steve Lamacq and been justifiably long listed for the BBC's Sound Of 2014, Sital-Singh's pressure to deliver a credible debut were not inconsiderable.
The eleven track album is introduced by arguably LS-S's most instantly accessible and commercial offering to date, 'Nothing Stays The Same', from last year's 'Tornados' EP. The brilliantly building anthemic sermon sees Sital-Singh rest his inner demons as the stirring and driven battle cry gathers pace throughout to deliver an incredibly infectious, catchy crescendo of sound. 'Greatest Lovers', Luke's single from earlier in the year, follows on in a slightly more tender, but no less powerful, tone as he puts his heart on his sleeve through his impassioned vocal. 'Bottled Up Tight' ties up the opening trio of quality tunes drawn from Sital-Singh's back catalogue before the first of his new offerings '21st Century Heartbeat'.
With both '21st Century Heartbeat' and subsequent tracks 'Lilywhite' and 'Cornerstone' in particular, you get a real sense of Luke Sital-Singh's developing talent, his growing maturity, his own comfort and belief in his ability. There are some fantastic moments here that set his debut apart. The stripped back angst and agony delivered up in the touching, tender and somewhat tragic 'Lilywhite' are fantastically emotive and moving. Luke's marriage of music and lyrics are perfectly matched here and serve to highlight what an incredible singer-songwriter he is. "Rip out all my excuses, tell me softly who you're hiding from, I have nothing left but losing, bruising me" he sings with such bewildering delicacy as he pulls you in. Close out track 'Cornerstone' is similarly effective. The wanting in these songs is almost tangible as his longing for love and to have that love reciprocated is openly and honestly shared.
Just as stirring is another of Luke Sital-Singh's newer songs, 'I Have Been A Fire'. His pent up emotion is delivered up from the very depths of his soul to accompany the initially soft introduction. The brooding beginning is briefly, and wonderfully, interrupted as LS-S's heart-wrenching voice is matched by a wall of electric guitar that is equally as fraught as the vocal.
The does sun shine, musically at any rate, momentarily on 'Everything Is Making You' and 'We Don't Belong' as Luke injects some pace. The lyrics may still tell stories of loss, longing and regret but the tone of the music disguises the mood. Both are well-crafted, top draw, folk-fused pop songs with immediate appeal. 'Nearly Morning' and the magnificent melancholy misery of tearjerker 'Fail For You' wrap up the eleven track set.
'The Fire Inside' is a collection of both new and familiar material that showcases Luke Sital-Singh's blend of emotive song writing in a paired up set that both captures your imagination and pulls at your heartstrings. Luke's ability to convey a story and then set it to life with his soulful, sometimes tender, sometimes tortured vocal is what draws the album together and what makes it so compelling. A striking and stirring debut that doesn't disappoint.