The debut album from the Manchester-based singer songwriter Sukh (aka Sukhdeep Krishanis) is undoubtedly one for the winter. The rich tones of his voice, the grand piano melodies and the gracious string arrangements across these ten tracks seem to wrap themselves around the listener like a comforting blanket, the gorgeous swell of the gently seductive opener ‘Arisen’ a fine example. A working musician, Sukh works as a doctor when he isn’t crafting and self-producing these easy going yet heartfelt numbers, and his understanding of medicine and the human mind even influences his musical work.
Second track ‘Kings’ also provides the second highlight, an uplifting breeze that sets his warming voice to jangly guitars and a colourful arrangement, with the utterly blissful solo in the middle not too far from Smiths territory. The soft, glistening charm of ‘St Cats’ is where folk meets dream pop and where wonderfully subtle brass rises harmoniously, while ‘Just What I Thought’ returns to upbeat, acoustic-driven pop, gliding on a carefree sense of joy.
Another major high point arrives in the beautiful ‘Clear Horizon’, an elegant piano ballad designed to warm even the coldest of hearts, glowing with Cat Stevens-esque melodies and alluring instrumentation. The aforementioned influence is also present in amongst the heavenly ambience of the hymn-like standout ‘Den’, while the church-like reverb on the vocals provides an extra lift to the closing ‘Now/Tomorrow’. We’ve all heard of incompetent doctors, however the only thing this one needs to work on are his lyrics. Sometimes they’re disappointingly uninspired (“I will run, run, run down the street, I will say hello to everyone I meet”) and at other times ridiculous (“a professor in the zone, cooking chicken at home, biting down to the bone” what were you thinking Sukh?!) and yet these shortcomings don’t seem to affect the impact of the best songs here. ‘To The Lighthouse’ is a different matter, since it isn’t one of the best, while ‘Chair’ comes across as a bit more middle of the road, and is pleasant rather than great. However, there is very little to complain about elsewhere.
Beautifully arranged with a charming warmth, when ‘Kings’ is at its best it makes an essential companion for these cold winter months. Not quite being as consistent as you’d expect a brief 35 minute album to be is the only reason this largely wonderful record isn’t scoring more marks overall. Rating: