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Album Review

David Singer is emo's answer to Ben Folds on his sophomore release, Civil Wars, as prominently tinkling ivories set a melancholy mood. Even though tracks such as "I Will Come Back From the War and Then I'll Marry You" and "Slightly Damaged but Used" match this dour disposition, they and the rest of the disc have an optimistic underpinning that seems natural within the pop parameters Singer sets up for himself, something that sets him apart from his Deep Elm labelmates almost as much as his instrument of choice does. Comparisons to Elvis Costello's more pensive moments are also not out of place, if the former angry young man decided to join Singer's contemporaries, Jets to Brazil. ~ Brian O'Neill, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Yesterday's Tomorrow

This is such a wonderful album. Usually, modern day singer songwriters think they are being unique by ripping off Nick Drake, but Singer and crew, while respecting the musical past, create a sophisticated, ambient tapestry all their own. The lyrics, the orchestration, the bass line in "Slightly Damaged, Hardly Used", the poignancy of "I Will Come Back from the War” all come together to create a wonderful album of yesterday's tomorrow. There are hints of Costello, maybe some XTC or later-era Beach Boys, with the word play of a Morrissey or Lennon, and, I kid you not, R. Newman, but the result is nothing but unique. Not sure? Spend $1.98 on tracks 1 and 8 and tell me this stuff isn't great.

And The Critics Say...

"A record that so beautifully unleashes the essence of pop, this is the promise of the debut solo album from David Singer. The Cost of Living begins with the dreamy piano rock tale of the surreal experience of wrapping your car around a tree in the middle of the night on an empty highway. The Accidents' brilliant, melodic songwriting, reminiscent of Stephen Merritt of the Magnetic Fields, is perfectly complemented with David Singer's sleepy falsetto and in-awe lyrics: 'I pulled myself out through the windshield and saw that/the night was as wide as the sea/I brushed all the flecks of glass out of my hair and/I counted the stars I could see.' The effect nearly turns your heart inside out and rockets you through the cosmos of an unspoken flood of emotion. The title track shows off Singer's pop prowess and knack for Beatles-esque horns, 'Base of My Skull' would fit nicely alongside Bob Mould's sugary, heartfelt rock confessionals and 'Will' reaches Elliot Smith's range of late Beatles love." - All Music Guide "The Cost Of Living is a remarkably good album. It's lush, warm sophisticated orchestrated pop...exceptional songs, crafted so well. Perhaps like The Beatles via Pavement or very tender Deus, David Singer shows intellectual restraint and sweeping understatement, introspective fragility and existential longing. A fine, fine album from a singer on the level of Elliot Smith, Steven Malkamus and Beck. Beautiful." - Organart "David Singer writes songs that conjure up that eerie edge between nightmares and sweet dreams. It's a funky melange of pop, electro-hip hop with a rock sensibility, and a small dollop of shoegazing for those of us who aren't quite over that. Singer's voice is quite diversified, conveying everything from simpering doubt to ironic retrospection." - MetroMix "The Cost Of Living serves as a perfect spotlight for David Singer's particular and impressively developed songwriting talent. Freed of the inevitable compromises one makes in the context of a band, Singer's classic pop sensibility flourishes, proving him to be as skilled with a Beatlesque hook as he is with more textured, songwriterly twists of melody and phrase. His strongest suit, in fact, may be his lyrics. Singer is undoubtedly a young songwriter to watch." - CMJ "With The Cost Of Living, Chicago's David Singer is likely to emerge as one of the best singer / songwriters in modern music. His acoustic-based songs are thoughtful and complex and The Cost of Living is definitely not lacking in variety. Almost every track is consistent with Singer's gentle vocals and added rhythm section made from tape loop experimentation. It's quite simply a brilliant record that fans of Elliot Smith, Ben Folds or even Dashboard Confessional will come to love. The Cost of Living contains all the quality you can expect from a Deep Elm Records release: inspired lyrics, brilliant songwriting and premium quality recording." - Punk International "David Singer may be regarded as one of the most talented solo artists today. While difficult to describe Singer's music on The Cost Of Living, I'd place him in a cross between Elliot Smith, The Beatles and a bit of Pavement...a very interesting mix indeed. David Singer's music is a beautiful landscape that is truly a wonder to explore. Using experimentations and sweeping ballads with a pop feel, all instruments are pushed to the fullest potential. The amazing thing is that Singer wrote, arranged and played virtually every instrument on the album. I have a deep respect for anyone who has the drive to craft songs like that. Still, the album's strongest point is the lyrics. They read like a dream...a poem really. Like sad stories, I can easily imagine them in my mind. A refreshing change in pace to my usual listing habits." - United Front


Genre: Classical

Years Active: '00s

Offering a form of dreamy alternative pop that set him apart from most guitar-oriented singer/songwriters, David Singer first appeared on the indie scene in 2000. Coming out of the Chicago area, where he'd been a member of local favorites Kid Million, Singer played almost all of the instruments on his debut as a solo artist, an LP for Deep Elm called The Cost of Living. He resurfaced two years later with a backing band (the Sweet Science) and a second effort for Deep Elm, Civil...
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Civil Wars, David Singer
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Customer Ratings