>> Jackson Cavalier challenges every preconception of a one-man band, bringing raw emotion to the field. His latest album, Half Moon, tells a tale of being lost in the modern age.
Cavalier, when he’s on his game, can be a stellar lyricist. His flowery language suits his musical stylings, with artful words matching complex guitar work. He also knows when to tone it down; simple short words to really drive home an emotional point. His lyrics aren’t perfect across the board (more on that later), but at their best they’re excellent.
The lyrics aren’t even the solitary standout feature. Cavalier knows his way around a guitar. While he’s not always playing the most technically complex riffs, he’s playing with a lot of feel. He’s a master of matching guitar tone to mood, with slight tweaks between verses serving to augment different emotions.
Jackson Cavalier knows his strengths and doesn’t stray from them. There’s little variety to be found, with some tracks nearly blending together when listening straight through the album. The cover art is a full synopsis of the sound: one guy, a guitar, a harmonica, and little else. There’s no experimentation, no pushing the envelope, nothing really new.
While the lyrics have their high points, they also have their lows. Compare and contrast Courtney Barnett: when her lyrics start to get inane, it’s a commentary on daily life. With Jackson Cavalier, it can feel like he’s just running out of words to fill the verse. He has a habit of repeating the same word or phrase for multiple lines, and it comes across with mixed results. Sometimes he’ll hit his mark, with a thought repeated for emphasis. Often, though, it sounds more like he really liked a phrase and wants you to keep hearing it.
Jackson Cavalier knows the folk formula like the back of his hand. Twangy vocals match a twangy guitar, with a few insightful words along the way. At its best, Half Moon is a meaningful commentary on love or loss. At its
worst, though, it’s five or six words repeated over the same chord progressions you’ve heard for years. All in all, it’s like the first band at a festival: enjoyable, but definitely not a headline show. 3.8/5 <<