Premier is one of the most eclectic mixes of modern music you will find. The dozen tracks on Jonathan Cavier’s debut are practically the work of a prodigy – this young songwriting exhibits melodic powers and songwriting depths that even major talents are proud to boast over after a decade’s long career. Since his debut as one half of the EyeTalk duo, Cavier has collaborated on the recording of six albums, including this one, toured much of the world, and received a wealth of critical and popular acclaim for his talents. The release of Premier, his first album as Jonathan Cavier, is a seminal and career defining moment. His collaborative team has positioned him in the best possible way to succeed – there is a strong uniformity to the sonics employed from song to song and an equally balanced approach to the mix.
It is apparent from the first song on. “January” opens the album in deeply impressive fashion. This is a fully-integrated and well rounded song – every element is considered. The arrangement is substantive without ever falling into ridiculous complication, the melodic points are emphasized, Cavier’s lyrics are often profoundly moving, and he delivers them with a rare combination of sensitivity and technical power. Cavier’s a judicious wielder of his voice and the song “Time Will Tell”, a devastatingly good homage to 80’s power pop, proves the point completely. He wisely juxtaposes another sensitive vocal against the brash bombast of the backing track. “Comes a Moment” represents nothing less than a bracing 180 degree turn from the preceding song and places the listener surprisingly in light ballad territory. Cavier doesn’t disappoint however. It’s a relaxed gem that never oversteps its mandate and has a warm sincerity you don’t often hear in such material.
“Burning Away” is one of Premier’s few truly darker moments, a simmering rock workout with atmospheric bite and an excellent arrangement. Cavier inhabits the lyric with a rare ferocity, but it’s never outright aggressive, merely suggestive. He revisits the 1980’s again on “Are You in Love?”, a pulverizing percussion showcase that, nevertheless, fails to abandon its melodic strengths at any point. Cavier makes unashamed use of the full range of his voice – he never attempts to match power for power, mood for mood, but instead positions his voice against the arrangement in ways that strengthen the bond between them. “Lightning in a Bottle” is a lighter invocation of the 1980’s that relies less on bombast than presenting the listening with another array of pleasing melodies and an intelligent, yet upbeat lyrical slant not without some faint flavor of the bittersweet. It’s miraculously effective songwriting that powers Premier, track after track, and Cavier seems to gain strength as the album moves along.
The album’s last zenith comes with the breezy power pop of “Pearl”. It’s a personal invocation of the traditional love song, but Cavier imbues it with the compelling force of his own character and a flair for the dramatic. Premier is an all-around winner that has no discernible weaknesses and sets the stage for a memorable career.
9 out of 10.
Written by Michael Saulman