There is no sense of the where and when listening to Singapore singer-songwriter Charlie Lim‘s double EP Time/Space. It simply is.
The music of Time/Space is the honest expression of a young man coming to terms with life issues and a burgeoning musical talent. Taken as a whole – 8 tracks and two bookends – Time/Space is a polaroid shot of where Charlie is, and from an artistic perspective, it is looking very very good.
From the outset, with the ragtime-infused “Blah Blah Blues”, it’s clear that Charlie is not interested in cliches and limitations on his music but will go wherever his muse takes him.
“I tend to make my mountains out of molehills” he sings plaintively before he vamps on the chorus – “Itʼs not that hard to sing about being hurt/
Itʼs kind of lucrative to write a love song/Because everybody else just canʼt get enough” – an ironic comment perhaps about his own persona?
Personally, Charlie always hits home with his ballads – wonderful melanges of folk, soul & indie pop that never fail to send chills down spine. “Choices” is the first one – where Charlie’s sweet larynx combines with guitar patterns and trademark cutting lyrics – “I can take complication/If I can comprehend/But I can’t deal with ignorance/Even if you think it’s bliss” – to produce an overwhelming emotional resonance.
This leads us to Charlie’s magnum opus “Bitter” – the rollercoaster ride of ‘feels’ as Charlie shares some of the most poignant lyrics – “Was I trying to cash in the fantasy without the reality check?”, “Embrace the silence when thereʼs nothing left/You got no room for demons when youʼre self-possessed” and of course, ” Was I spoilt for love/Have you had enough/Wait out the danger/You donʼt have to ask/This maudlin moment/Will soon come to pass”. Sheer bloody genius.
Incredibly, Charlie offers two potential “Bitter”-killers, so to speak, here with “Light Breaks In” and “I Only Tell the Truth”.
The former is a early 70s folk-inflected stunner where Charlie slays with guitar and voice. And when the string sections moves in, I challenge you not to feel that lump in the throat moment before the tears well up. Fuckin’ gorgeous with sentiments to match – “Pour out all your sorrow/Were you waiting for a sign/Only breathing just a little/And calling it a life”. Beautiful.
The latter is the closing track and yet again is another melancholy masterpiece as you listen to the airplane pilot giving instructions for landing. Wonderfully arranged and primed for the kill once Charlie gets to the heart-breaking chorus – “But I won’t catch you if you let go/I’ll pick apart the things you let fold/If that’s what you want I guess we’ll move on/I’m sorry” – and for anyone who has lived through the death of a relationship, these words take on massive proportions. For me personally, I have broken down more than a few times when feeling the intensity of the emotions that Charlie is conveying here. All too real. And when the “Outro” hits, its hard to describe as the sad lonely piano plays out to the sound of children.
But then, it’s over, and I press play again and let the magic of Charlie Lim wash over me once more.
Time/Space will be released on June 6th at the House of Riot concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall. Tickets available from SISTIC.