Gifted and accessible, Liam Singer is the kind of musician for whom Fingertips exists. We are assaulted by endless sound, we are inundated by generic, laptop-fueled creations, we have abandoned meaning for virality and melody for sensation, and yet even here, in this crazed inferno, exist some (hat tip to old friend Italo Calvino) who are not inferno. I try to find these folks every week or so, to give them space and help them endure, and Liam Singer pretty much epitomizes the mission.
Here’s a guy who can begin with a keyboard refrain all but Bachian in its playful convolution (in what appears to be 6/4 time no less), find a melody to sing on top of the refrain, add a chorus too severely syncopated ever to sing along with, float woodwinds and angelic backing vocals through the artfully conceived soundscape, use a cello without showing off, and wrap the whole enterprise up in less than three minutes. And it’s seriously beautiful. As the lyrics glide in and out of comprehension, there’s an air of something out of time here. The title refers not to a “stranger I know” but is the beginning of a sentence addressing this stranger, and as such conveys the flavor of some centuries-old ballad (an impression reinforced by the apparent use of the pronoun “thy”). At the same time there’s something not only modern but brand-new seeming in the song’s sprightly lift and distinctive construction. A winner start to finish.
“Stranger I Know” is the first track made available from the album Arc Iris, which is scheduled for release in July by Hidden Shoal Recordings. Singer was born in Oregon and is based in Queens, NY; this will be his fourth album. He was previously featured on Fingertips in September 2010. MP3 via Hidden Shoal.