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Dan Croll And Luke Sital-Singh. Two British Songwriters Move To Los Angeles, Sing About California And Please The Crowd

It seems like the setup for a joke. Two unrelated ex-pats from the UK move to Los Angeles. Both are singer-songwriters. One writes happier songs, the other tends toward the dark side. They find each other in the UK, and later both move to Los Angeles. Dan wrote his song Stay in L.A. prior to moving to California, Luke wrote his song California after he set up in Los Angeles.

One of their first post-Covid actions was to set off on a small tour of the Western United States. Neither of them had played live with any frequency since March of 2020. Their first show of this tour was at the Soda Bar in San Diego, CA. I was there and quickly noticed that on an ordinary weeknight there was a good crowd who was there for them.

Their show was intimate. Each man played his set on a bare stage with a keyboard they each shared, balancing on the keyboard cover as a set of sorts as they’d forgotten to bring a stool. They both brought their guitars and each of them was fluent with their instruments. I observed that both men shared similar vocal range, intonation and guitar playing skill. Dan later categorized their songs as “Brits abroad who share a love of Americana.”

Dan opened with a set which reasonably upbeat. Luke then played a more downbeat collection of songs. In fact, Luke repeated said during his set his songs “were depressing, while Dan’s were happy.” He balances the heaviness of his songs by sharing more upbeat patter with the crowd.

Luke writes in an instinctual fashion, where the song all comes out at one sitting, or it is abandoned. Dan goes the opposite way and drags out the process of songwriting.

Historically, Dan would tour with a band, but this tour was deliberately low key. It was literally, Dan and Luke sharing a car, a room and some of their equipment. It allowed them to do a small step back into touring without a lot of economic risk. Each of them has songs which they play with regularity because they have achieved traction with their fans. For Dan those songs are: From Nowhere, Compliment Your Soul, and Home. For Luke the songs are Killing Me, Fail For You and Call Me When You Land.

Luke has an album coming out later this year and is currently scheduled to open for Passenger’s tour later this year. He’s planning to take a full band on tour with him. This will be his first tour with a band. Dan is going back into the studio in April to work on his own new album. He has often played with a band backing him. It’s very expensive to have a band on the road. To date, Dan has only made money from one live show with a band in tow.

I spoke with both Dan and Luke who were holed up in a motel just outside of Seattle as they were wrapping up their tour. It’s a good listen. The links below are for the podcast in either video or audio format.

In these days in which tours are built as much about the visual effects as the songs being played, being in a room with musicians who are fine tuning their craft and relying solely upon their musical gifts is a special experience. Both Dan Croll and Luke Sital-Singh are doing this old school – they write the songs, they put their guitars in the car, and they go play somewhere to people who expect nothing more than to hear them sing and play. It is certainly fun to go to a big show where the visuals dazzle and the sound systems overwhelms. But, there is a certain purity when there is nothing but talent on display. That’s what I saw at the Soda Bar – two men who each, in turn, stood before a crowd with nothing to offer but their songs and their skills. What they received in return was love. That’s the power of live music. Production values are a fun add on, like sparklers on a dessert. But, the sparklers’ flame brings hollow excitement if the desert tastes like sand. Live music is the refuge of honest entertainment. The only time the audience should feel the sandman enter is when Metallica plays. Otherwise, like with Dan and Luke, we go to be of the moment, appreciate the sound, the crowd and the steady hand of the performer who leads us through the night.

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