Album Spotlight: Jackson Cavalier - "Two//Four"

>>You know Jackson, even if you don’t think you do. If you have spent any time outdoors at festivals and seen a busker playing a suitcase then you absolutely know him. There’s a chance that you walked on by, only believing that a man who plays a suitcase is some sort of side show, a mere muse to entice you to stick around a kick a buck, his applied shtick to be different. The truth is far from shtick and as it turns out Jackson Cavalier is a multi-instrumentalist with a reach and depth that’s much further than a busking one-man band.

Jackson’s latest effort, Two of Four, continues from One of Four with more heartland inspired tracks. Imagine if Bob, Johnny, and Robbie all got together in a spur of the moment jam to record some songs and have some fun. There’s a group of musicians on this album that feels natural, like they’ve been playing together forever. The production gives the sense that they’re all in the same house, Exile on Main Street style, living in a communal and utopian way. Jackson’s inflection is more Bob than ever, but it suits him and the music and never comes off as a grandstand.

There are so many adjectives to describe the style of music displayed on this album. Alternative Country, Folk Rock, or some other combination of two styled docked together by a hyphen. With too many of those to keep straight anymore it almost becomes moot. Use as many adjectives you can think of to separate artists but what matters most is whether or not the music speaks to the listener. Jackson Cavalier does just in Two of Four. The full band sound is much different than the sounds of his suitcase drum when busking. But it’s still there, he hasn’t strayed from his roots.

The very first lyrical line of the album is ridiculously apropos of our current situation. “Ain’t it hard when you're alone and living in the city”. It doesn’t take long for you to start tapping your toes, as a familiar sounding song plays on. There’s a bit of desperation in the melody, but it’s hopeful desperation, as if things are looking grim now but the corner is about to be turned. Maybe it’s the harmonica in a major key, maybe it’s the harmonizing vocals, or maybe it’s umami. “Between you and me with both got a lot to learn” and boy do we ever. There’s a natural reverb on the guitar that makes it sounds like it’s in the room with you. It glows, sparkles even, with such ease that it feels like there’s either zero post production on it or someone is a post-production whiz. Produced, engineered, mixed, and mastered by Ben Morey, the album (and also its predecessor One of Four) has fit the perfect sound and vibe for Jackson’ music. It’s artfully mixed, somehow keeping the street feeling alive through the full band. It sounds as if the band is in the room with you, no matter what speakers you play it on. Anyone in this genre should be knocking down Morey’s door to record with him. Earlier efforts by Cavalier were recorded and produced by student run Madstop Records in Potsdam and were good, too. But Morey’s sheen is palpable and gives the music a new life and feel.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to put this album on, now’s your chance. Its undertow keeps you rooted in the sand and as you stay put, your feet sinking deeper, you realize that there’s a whole world out on the horizon, a vast and beautiful one with endless opportunity. And here he is, Jackson Cavalier, finding his footing and seeing that the opportunity has only just begun. One of Four and Two of Four keep you looking for Three of Four and that for Jackson could mean the world. It’s about to break open for him, the sun rising on a talent that has unpacked his suitcase and is ready to meet the horizon.