The Cavalry – Build Your Own Empire
The Cavalry is the sort of project that can afford to think about empire building. When you release a debut as punchy and assertive as this with the musicianship and songwriting chops to back up your ambition, the long term begins looking quite viable. Build Your Own Empire contains five tracks and three remixes, but the undisputed heart of the release beats behind those first five tracks. This is certainly a professionally handled effort from top to bottom. The production renders everything with immediacy and clarity, keeps a good balance between the various sonic elements, and the album art likewise points towards a commitment towards excellence exceeding the typical standard for first releases. The Cavalry may, essentially, be a one-man show with Tristan Jackson being the creative juice, but he has a strong eye for working with the right people and there isn’t a single moment on this EP that doesn’t sound like a full band affair.
“JFK Intro” opens the release with what, perhaps, is its most intricate and unpredictable piece of music. This is an overture of sorts for the rest of the album and features voice clips from a President Kennedy speech, hence the title. It is tied together so seamlessly, however, that listeners are apt to forget it is designed to serve as an introduction and little more. The quality is such, however, that the song stands on its own as a durable and complete composition. “Don’t Mean You’re Gone” has some cleverness to burn, but there’s also some implied underlying heart ache that the song’s brashness cannot conceal. Guitars are used well and often in the song, but they aren’t omnipresent and, instead, invest the song with appealing bluesy bite.”Wake Up Call” has a much more orchestral slant, but it follows the template laid out by the preceding song with a simmering build followed by a thunderous chorus. It, likewise, blends the disparate instrumental parts together into a more cohesive whole rather than setting aside even a shaft of the spotlight for any individual players. The songs on Build Your own Empire exist, conclusively, as songs rather than glorified vehicles for solo turns.
“When The Radio’s Gone” has the same exuberance defining the first track but it’s amplified further on this number. The Cavalry tends to prefer big top moments on their songs and this is no exception – we get the same qualities of construction defining the earlier songs and the escalation has an even more anthemic effect than those preceding songs. Nolan Neal from NBC’s hit TV show The Voice joins Jackson on the EP’s final song “Red, White, & Blue Jeans” for a conclusion that seems so natural after hearing the song for a handful of seconds. This is easily the song’s most anthemic number, but there’s the same underlying subtlety defining this track that distinguishes the earlier performances.
Build Your Own Empire has the sort of transformative quality that makes it easy to announce this project as one of the most promising products yet from the Nashville Rock phenomenon currently sweeping over Music City U.S.A and the charts. Tristan Jackson’s The Cavalry has gusto, ambition, and masterful command of fundamentals that enables to entertain anyone who comes in contact with the music.
9 out of 10 stars.