Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Angel” by Gambles from the 2013 self-released album, Trust.
Matthew Daniel Siskin, a.k.a. Gambles, likes words. His website is a collage of ambiguous sentences. His music is a set of simple sounding confessions. But there is reason within Gambles’ cornucopia of words. His lyrics aren’t necessarily complex, but it’s clear that the musician wrote them with purpose. Siskin’s album, prompted by a short relationship and its painful results, acts as a verbal journal. His straightforward, stripped down folk style, similar to classics like Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, awakens his otherwise mysterious collage of words. Siskin, who garnered attention before officially releasing any music, has received quick recognition largely due to his online presence. His philosophy is uncomplicated: “people and music; boiled down, pressed dry, sliced thin, and left to dry.” Despite being a newcomer on the scene, Siskin didn’t just pop out of nowhere. He is known for founding the design studio, Designedmemory, responsible for Beyonce’s reworked online presence.
Upon first listen,”Angel” might sound like another overly sincere love song, but what sets this first track on Trust apart is that you get the sense that Siskin actually knows the person he’s singing to. Rather than resorting to typical comparisons or observations about her, he thinks up candid metaphors (“You are the waving candle light/ You are the punch inside my gut”) and uncontrived compliments (“I love the way you blink your eyes/ I love the way your words are clear”). These sentiments are realistic; they create a snapshot of a relationship’s complexity supported by Siskin’s unprocessed strumming. For those longtime fans of definitive folk artists, Gambles is a refreshing yet familiar artist to add to the collection.