LUKE SITAL-SINGH – Dressing Like A Stranger (Nettwerk Records)

Dressing Like A StrangerLuke Sital-Singh’s fourth album Dressing Like A Stranger is the soundtrack to my recent food order at my local Festival Foods’ kiosk that sold burgers and bratwursts for the benefit of a local fundraising cause. It’s a common summer Midwest Wisconsin thing. A young woman, who had given her Saturday to sell food for her concern, sat on the concrete with acoustic guitar in hand and strummed a few chords. She had ripped jeans and high-topped Converse tennis shoes. In discussion, she simply confessed a desire “to be a psychiatrist and help people learn about life”.

The opening lines of the title tune echo this desired high-topped introspection, as Luke sings, “I’ve been walking through my mind this morning, but I don’t recognize these winding roads”. While this album rides a similar orbit to Bon Iver’s vulnerability, Dressing Like A Stranger is not about a romantic breakup, but rather, the songs, as witnessed in ‘Me And God’, confront the heavy psychological gravity of prayers “left with unanswered messages”. It’s brilliant song that walks through “these winding roads” and conjures the simple beauty of a really nice Paul Simon tune. That’s a big compliment! And ‘Blind Missiles’ continues the contemplation (fused with a psych vibe!) in a world where “the worst ain’t happened yet”, with a clever juxtaposed smooth acoustic blend of guitar, voice, keys, and percussion.

There’s another big chorus in ‘California’, which could be autobiographical as native Londoner Luke writes with freshly found melody about his new home base.

The piano-graced ‘Rather Be’ is gentle, passionate, and caressed with sweeping strings. It echoes the austerity of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Little Green’. And ‘Forever Endeavor’ is another piano touched tune with a whispered melody that journeys into the wombed warmth of infinite space on the wisp of a falsetto flight that sings, ‘Remember those fading scars/I’ll be proud always of ours”. This is sublime stuff.

And ‘Wiser Too’ pulses with keyboard colours, and even more falsetto voiced comfort through troubled times. Nice.

It’s interesting to note that these introspective lyrics are (sometimes) wrapped in an irresistible melodic groove. ‘Can’t Get High’ is just happy pop-folk music, with an incredible bass line to boot! The catchy funk-pop continues with ‘All Night Stand’, which sort of conjures the sound of Gallagher and Lyle (of McGuinness Flint and folk-dual fame!) in their more pop-folk ‘Breakaway’ moments. Nice, again. Then, ‘Summer Somewhere’ continues with a more acoustic thought with strummed exuberance.

The final song, ‘The Walk’, sings an acoustic full confessional gospel song that’s dipped in the baptismal font of any continuously flowing righteous river. Nice, once more, and forever amen again!

My beloved Kinks once sang, “God save” many things, including “strawberry jam”, “little shops”, “good old Mother Riley”, and of course, “the George Cross and all those who were awarded them”. Well, ditto for Dressing Like A Stranger which resurrects the honest simplicity of a “village green”, which is now in a youthful melodic vogue, with a strummed acoustic guitar, ripped jeans, a confessed a desire “to be a psychiatrist and help people learn about life”, and those lovely re-treaded retro high-topped Converse tennis shoes – and, of course, all the hip young kids who, once again, are now wearing them.

Bill Golembeski

Artist’s website:

‘Me & God’ – official video: