Singing Low is the lead single from The Fray’s upcoming singles compilation. Is it supposed to be a culmination of everything that’s come before it? Is it supposed to show the new horizons the band will explore? Is it supposed to be a smash hit like so many of their singles before it? It’s seemingly supposed to do all three, and as such is unlikely to actually accomplish any one.
The new track actually skews closest to The Fray’s breakout debut album, How to Save a Life. It may not have that record’s style of baroque ornamentation, instead opting for expensive-sounding synth pads, but it does have the sweeping, moody style down-pat. Singer Isaac Slade displays an impressive falsetto in the chorus, and his trademark emotional yelps in the verses. Thanks to his voice, the song is identifiably by The Fray, but with the smooth instrumental and falsetto it could also be mistaken for an early Coldplay song. It’s enjoyable, but forgettable. It’s easy to sing along to the chorus’ drawn out notes, but once the song is over, they don’t stick in your head like You Found Me. The Fray have never exactly been the kings of emotional depth or creativity, so without catchiness, what do they have?
The lyrics are somewhat of a mixed bag. The chorus is simple, but sweet – “we can lay together / we’re closer than we’ve ever been” – but the verses contain some deeply questionable imagery. The opening line – “words falling on our skin / like water torture” – is a real clunker, relating Slade’s emotional problems to horrific, real-world events. Later on he sings “where we’re going, that promised land / we made that promise / you gave me your hand”, trying to evoke momentous imagery to ascribe grandiosity to his fairly normal emotions. This sense of overreach clashes violently with the generic nature of the instrumental, so whilst the song is a briefly charming listen, it lacks the qualities that have made the band such an enduring radio staple.