Music

David Singer: The Cost of Living

Ben Varkentine

David Singer

The Cost of Living

Label: Deep Elm
US Release Date: 2001-05-29
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David Singer plays sometimes piano, sometimes guitar-based rock & roll, with vocals that are occasionally overdubbed to create effects impossible for singers to achieve naturally and an incessant beat spiced with samples and some exotic instrumentation, including what is either a theremin, musical saw, or synthesized approximation of either.

This is your basic album of great promise, not brilliant red-hot but not exactly leaving you cold either. The most musically interesting songs to my ears are "Base of My Skull", with it's nice interplay between rhythm and lead guitar (both played by Singer) and the mostly-instrumental "I Don't Mind", which sounds like drum machines and guitars being dragged across the bottom of the ocean and scraping against each other.

Singer is (mostly) another one-man operation and you know, sometimes I really miss bands. To be sure, there's something to be said for the creative force of one person, be they Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails, Monc, or now Singer doing it all themselves. But there's also something about music being great when its more than the sum of it's parts or players.

I also wish Singer's lyrics were a little less prosaic, at times they have a dull, unimaginative quality that remind me of the insufferable student-type who has just realized, get this, that there's a lot of hypocrisy in the world. Elsewhere they're just the kind of coded symbols that have a lot less meaning to other people than the writer thinks.

According to Singer's label's official page for him, songs from this album have been used in a production by Chicago's acclaimed Steppenwolf Theater. Without knowing which they were, it's easy to imagine Singer's work in a theatrical situation. It has a pop musical (as in Godspell, and I mean that as a compliment) quality that is quite endearing.

Singer could go either way. He's part of that slowly rising generation of bedroom studio mavens whose production abilities somewhat outweigh their songwriting talents at this point. Though he should by no means be dismissed, he's got some way to go before he reaches the top.


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