David Singley New Album ‘Fools & Mystics’

An Illinois native now based out of St. Paul, Minnesota, David Singley’s work as a singer/songwriter has an effortlessly authentic touch. His new album Fools & Mystics continues exploring the same singer/songwriter traditions espoused on his 2021 release The Long, Slow Fuse of Night. Album titles such as these are evocative of Singley’s songwriting approach. He favors thoughtful, even poetic, material that connects with audiences, possesses bracing directness, and eschews any hint of pretentiousness.

His fourth solo album opens with the gentle charms of “Change Gonna Come”. The lush vocal harmonies opening the song serve notice that Singley values functional rather than ornamental beauty. Jangling percussion gives the song a distinct yet unexpected flavor. His solo vocals, sans the aforementioned harmonies, boast a relaxed yet confident quality that helps convey the significant details woven into his lyrics. It’s an excellent way to begin the collection.

“Paradise” is one of several peak moments on Fools & Mystics. He threads folky acoustic musings with classical instrumentation in a dramatic fashion. However, attentive listeners will and should note how Singley judiciously incorporates these elements. There’s never any overkill. The obvious ambition afoot throughout the performance never undermines its concision. It clocks in at just over the four-minute mark and never sounds like it’s overreaching.

He takes a stylistic 180 with “Cartoon Heart”. This briskly paced tune is a straight-up country song replete with fiddle and well-placed vocal harmonies. The loose feel he achieves with this song belies the tight arranging and polished presentation; the song breathes, but there’s nothing left to chance. The warmth radiating from the lyrics enhances its appeal to listeners. “Some Other Song” will divide listeners. A sizable segment of the audience will appreciate the biting intelligence and superb playing present throughout the cut. However, others will think the song sounds too bitter for its own good. Singley isn’t wrong, and he’s writing from the heart – but not everyone will greet the song’s message with open arms.

The light hush pervading “Love Will Take Its Time” is another of the album’s peak moments. Singley has a penchant for sensitive ballads in acoustic settings and, perhaps most importantly, he never risks repetition. Vocal harmonies are a crucial piece of the song’s musical puzzle without ever being as omnipresent as they are in earlier songs. Fools & Mystics is diverse. He treads through gospel territory during the penultimate tune “Go Back Home”. He scatters several well-timed swells throughout the arrangement that further fill the song with color. His pensive piano lines are always melodic and often quite elegant.

David Singley’s latest collection Fools & Mystics should garner him new listeners and reaffirm longtime fans’ belief that he’s one of the best songwriters working today. You may have never heard of him, but you can redress that oversight today.