Jonathan Cavier – Premier
With a foxy, easy groove worked into every song by Jonathan Cavier (former half of the duo EyeTalk who released five discs a few years back), his debut Premier is stunning through and through. Too many albums are weighed down with filler and skippable tracks, but there are no duff cuts here and each tune has a level of polish that befits it while keeping the music real and honest.
The sweeping “January” is the kind of acoustic number that Train would perform, yet Cavier has a more introspective touch and chooses to embellish rough n’ tumble rhythms (even in the softest tracks), steadfast acoustic guitars with breathy vocals that never stay in one place. This is an instant radio smash waiting to happen and could happen to any song on the album if it is chosen as a single release. “Hope” is on the heavier side of the tracks, while still retaining a positive message. A tapestry of rumbling bass guitar, quaking drums, electronic brushstrokes and horns gives the song a ton of energy and makes it very, very memorable. “Time Will Tell” and “Burning Away” are cut from similar cloth in the rock department and show that good pop mixes well with electric bombast.
Despite the presence of some edgy numbers, Premier settles into a mode and explores every possible path within it. “Comes a Moment” will make you weepy but it’s not just a boring tearjerker. Beginning primarily with a build-up featuring Jonathan and his acoustic guitar, the whole band sound enters and adds some much needed gusto that only engages the listener further. The way some tracks are put together they end totally different than they began. A jazzy beat peppers “Are You in Love” with a lot of vibrant flair and the downplayed electric guitars coupled to the piano and keyboards are an absolute treasure. This is a dashing pop tune that flirts with rock music. An acoustic sweep permeates “Found You” which strays from some of the sadness in the other material for a track about finding true love. The exquisite vocal performance teeters between belting higher notes and spine-tingling lows for a piece that makes all of the right moves.
The sun goes down on “Lightning in a Bottle” where the tabla drumming, dueling bass/guitar licks and slower pacing makes for a dusty jam that showcases Cavier’s baritone. It’s easily the album standout and isn’t like any of the record’s other songs. Premier’s remainder is on the peppy pop side and aside from an instrumental finale, the bouncy radio friendly ensemble cuts and soulful exposes on balladry are so in the pocket instrumentally and vocally that they never offend the ears and only make you want to hear keepers like “Pearl” and “Sedona” again and again.
It’s hard to stumble on good new music, so it’s a pleasure to review something like this. Premier doesn’t have a bum song in the bunch and Jonathan shines as a musician, as a singer and as a songwriter all throughout. If you like tunes from the heart, then this one is for you.
9 out of 10 stars.