Cale and the Gravity Well are marketed as folk rock, and while there are some songs on his debut album The Age of Envy that fit that genre, there is a whole lot more to be discovered that often veers from the set path.
The LP works the best in this reviewers opinion when it sticks to its folk rock roots. “Toy Store Robbery” crosses that sound with a bit of a country vibe. The electric guitar suits the tone of the song just fine as Cale sings “Life’s a bitch,” going back and forth between a more manic delivery that keeps listeners on their toes and a slowed down more bluesy feel on parts of the tune. The chorus is downright a head bopping experience in itself and that is probably the strongest part of the structure of the track. It’s not the best on the album, but it is one of the better upbeat numbers that doesn’t stray too far from the genre that Cale and the Gravity Well see themselves as.
“An Angry Blade” is haunting from its instrumentation to its quiet vocals and dark tone. The vocals are chilling and will be sure to give some listeners goosebumps and it is this unassuming low key feel that really showcases what Cale is capable of musically. The lyrics are poetic and vivid, painting the picture of loneliness in a perfect portrait. It’s a long track at over five minutes and it drags a little bit as the song is quite repetitive,e but if one just sits back and let Cale and the Gravity Well take you on their ride it is worth it. “An Angry Blade” is all about the mood and Cale does a superb job of producing and delivering a tune that will captivate listeners from the first note. At times it feels like something Death Cab for Cutie could have released years ago, but Cale certainly makes it his own by adding layers to the track, especially towards the end as it all builds up in volume. It’s one song not to be missed and is definitely a highlight of the album.
Hands down the best track on The Age of Envy is “Interlude (Absalom).” It is the most straightforward folk tune to be found on the debut album and features stunning and dark lyrics such as “old as I am forever disturbed from a slumber I did not intend to leave” which matches note for note the somber guitar instrumentation. Simple and to the point, it is every bit as magical as it is thought provoking, something a good folk song should be. Here, Cale displays that when he wants to he can be a magnificent storyteller, as this particular tune sounds like it is being sung around a fire, passing the message of the track down to others. The bare bones approach of just having a guitar backing Cale up was absolutely the right decision to make and it is a bit of a shame that not more of the tracks reflect Cale’s talent like this song does.
Most of The Age of Envy feels all over the place and doesn’t form a cohesive album. Perhaps individually the songs can work on their own but they don’t always follow that folk rock sound that the artist is being marketed as. There are also times when it feels as if Cale is trying too hard to sound authentic and that just leaves this reviewer feeling disappointed, especially because Cale shows glimpses of genius on the LP. If there’s one thing to take away from Cale’s debut is that he shows promise of better things to come.