Losing someone close to you isn’t like it is in the movies. It’s often a scary, hard, personal and emotionally exhausting full-on process, where you are compelled to watch a loved one fade.
People often laughingly say babies don’t come with an instruction manual, but truly no one can prepare for how they might feel as a loved one ails. That’s particularly true if you, as a key witness, a carer, are young.
Sadly lead singer of Sylvette, Charlie Sinclair, had to experience that hurt with losing his terminally ill and disabled father during lockdown. With new single Single Thread, that process of the upset of a passing of someone close, and then the gentle slow process of regrowth and reconciliation is described in strongly poetic terms and set to a sensitive and thoughtful modern classical backdrop.
I lost an elderly uncle in lockdown, weak already, covid helped finish him. For me, the emotion of death was much more remote than it may have been; he lived in Oxfordshire, me in Yorkshire, I couldn’t visit, he had had his allotted three score and ten and a generous amount of spare. We couldn’t attend the funeral, although his local farming community came out with a suitably distanced outdoor parade of vintage pre 40’s tractors driven through the village, his total passion. Despite that humanity, I was distant from the whole process, bar a few photos and a short phone video.
Perhaps in lockdown, that power of loss was more unevenly distributed than usual; no one outside the immediate family to share the load. Fewer shoulders were there to bear the same amount of sorrow I guess.
The single thread of the song title to me symbolises how reflecting upon the same experience links the before and after. Having witnessed and supported, the same intense involvement was hard during, and then felt cathartic and healing afterwards. To me this song is about that word ‘witness’.
Thinking about Single Thread certainly makes me feel that we less creative individuals need to try and express ourselves so much more than just in terms of simple catch-all phrases “I miss you”, “I love you”. Not bad phrases, but curiously imprecise ones when you reflect.
Single Thread is a credit to Charlie, his love for his father and his resilience, and in his poetic ability to explain exactly what he went through. I recall the band’s post when Charlie’s dad died; it said how much support and love he had given to Sylvette. This song is the return.
I marvel that Charlie has explained Single Thread was recorded so simply; one take for Charlie’s stunning soaring vocals, then the band layering on the sensitive accompaniment.
Of course Single Thread is not one that comes ready made easy listening, there are no catchy chorus lines to hum along to while you do the ironing nor will you burst into song on the bus with the tune on your airpods. Nor should it.
Single Thread moves Sylvette into the tour de force, I always thought they would be. This song is about baring a creative soul, about creating a mood, a moment to be bottled up and kept forever. Not only is Single Thread a beautiful tribute, its deserved to be the backbone of Sylvette’s new album. Fans of art rock, modern classic, Alt J, and Dry The River would be comfortable here. Like most of my treasured songs, Single Track needs some plays and exploring to really pick up its beauty.
One day in the long future, Charlie will, I’m sure, gain even more benefit and comfort from this beautiful little package of mood and emotion stored and preserved safe tight. The rest of us should take heed of how amazing the creative process is, how it is to capture such a time so beautifully, so fully.
* images have been taken from the band’s social media pages