Jonathan Cavier – Premier
In a world full of cover artists, auto tuned pop singing and general hack music, Jonathan Cavier is an absolute pleasure to hear. His debut disc Premier is bursting out with ORIGINAL music paying great attention to harmony, melody and compositional value. There’s literally a song for everyone here. The variety is welcome and the writing is even better.
After an acoustic-laced, ear-catching sing-a-long “January” opens the album, things only expand from that point onward. It stands strong as a single, but this is a work full of possible lead singles. “Hope” pairs wonderfully with “Time Will Tell” as both keep the clean, cropped presentation of the first song present while spicing up the softer sides with a rock n’ roll touch; electric guitars, horns, keyboards and tight rhythms make these tunes big, beefed up and something to tap your foot hard to. Cavier’s well-groomed vocal chords are well-suited to every sort of material. I haven’t heard his old band EyeTalk, though something tells me it honed the musician’s chops and really helped warm him up for a solo career.
“Comes a Moment” just drips and oozes out of the speakers while returning the singer/songwriter to acoustic grounds with a poppy richness yielding rich results in terms of both the instruments and the vocal melodies. It’s absolutely captivating from start to finish. “Burning Away” is a rocker with a purpose; avoiding senseless noise with crystalline guitar lines and well-compacted beats to keep it pushing and pulling in every direction. As single worthy as opener “January,” “Are You in Love” draws inspiration from heartbreak and ensures that a melodic pop song full of acoustic guitars and gentle subtleties can still be a force to be reckoned with. This is a cut above the pop stars of the day and deserved recognition for its quality. “Found You” adds just enough rock to the pop format to make it instantly memorable. A thumping, percussive undercut and swaggering bass licks anchor it, while the plucky acoustics and powerful, emotive vocals of Jonathan morph into a hearty croon that isn’t fluffy in the least, but never overbearing.
Tribal hand percussion, sparse dusky guitar melodies and growly bass textures makes “Lightning in a Bottle” the surprise of the album. It’s moody, subdued and the eerie chime percussion only flavors it more robustly in tandem with the keyboard enhancement. “Pearl” benefits from bass lines that differ from the chord patterns of the acoustic guitar. The dichotomy is a total case of opposites attracting and the song is perfection when it comes to the vocal department with soulful background singing threading things together.
The rest of the record is strong with “Promise” almost acting as a spiritual successor to “Lightning in a Bottle” in terms of its creeping ambience, “Sedona” returning to semi-aggressive rock n’ roll that would be the perfect soundtrack for travelling through a forgotten western town and closer “Jupiter” calling to mind the experimental tendencies of Pink Floyd viewed from a different lens. There’s not a bad track in the bunch; Premier is prime sonic bliss indeed.
9 out of 10 stars.
Written by David Shouse