Album Review: Don Cavalli’s Temperamental

Photo Credit: Marie Planeille

 

Don Cavalli

Temperamental

Everloving Records

August 13, 2013

 

Track Listing

1.     Temperamental

2.     Garden of Love

3.     Me and My Baby

4.     Santa Rita

5.     Gonna Love You

6.     The Greatest

7.     Voice of the Voiceless

8.     Feel Not Welcome

9.     Zundapp

10.  Birthday Suit

11.  Say Little Girl feat. Rosemary Standley

12.  Row My Boat

 

 

French singer/songwriter/guitarist Fabrice Cavalli writes, records and performs under the moniker of Don Cavalli. And with the release of his critically applauded 2008 solo effort, Cryland, Cavalli developed a reputation for a sound that employed elements of Zydeco, Cajun, folk, the blues, and other world music. In fact, this unique sound won the attention of the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who recruited Cavalli to open for the Black Keys during a leg of one of their extensive tours. But instead of the typical record industry response of rushing to put out a sophomore effort, Cavalli took his time composing and writing the material on his sophomore effort, making sure that everything would be just right. In fact, during that time Cavalli worked a number of odd jobs to support himself including stints as a construction worker, a gardener and even an undertaker.

   The release of his sophomore effort, Temperamental last week through Everloving Records marks Cavalli’s first album in over five years and much like his debut effort, the material on the album deftly plays with genres making the material sound familiar and alien, old-fashioned and yet entirely novel – and it does so with a coolly self-assured, seductiveness. It’s the sound of a worldly man who knows just what want he wants, when he wants it, and how exactly to express it – with a sly but confident charm. “Temperamental,” the album title track is a clean and slickly produced bit of smooth soul and funk — with guitars played through wah wah pedal, a full, funky bass line and skittering, jittering drums, the track sounds as though it could have been influenced by Chuck Brown, the late godfather of Washington, DC’s signature sound — go-go, which is frankly some of the coolest shit you’ll ever hear. Lyrically, the narrator of the song is dealing with a woman who’s – well temperamental. But he knows exactly how to win her over. “Garden of Love” and “Santa Rita” employs piano, slightly twangy guitar and an incredible funky bass lines on tracks that manage to be both seductive and cinematic – both track sound as though it could have been a part of the credits of a Tarantino film. “Me and My Baby” is on a short list of one of the funkiest and seductive tracks I’ve heard this year, and it sounds as though it could have been released on the B-side of some obscure soul record released in 1964. “Gonna Love You” employs the use of room rattling boom bap drums, as Cavalli croons seductively to an object of urgent, passionate desire. “Feel Not Welcome” has Cavalli singing his bluesy lyrics with an old school hip hop cadence, behind boom bap drums and buzzing, grinding synths. In some way, the track pays homage to hip hop, funk and the blues – and with the same sort of swagger.

  The material on Temperamental manages to possess an eccentrically neurotic attention to even the smallest detail – it’s as deliberately and carefully crafted like a Nabokov novel with every note, every phrase feeling written, and revised several times over until absolutely perfect. Generally, with such attention to detail and careful revision, there’s a sense that the very soul and personality of the material has been scrubbed clean – but not here. Written to be heard as an organic whole, where there’s an overarching theme to the album, the material manages to sound breezily free-flowing,improvised and raw, belying its deliberate, careful nature and man, that’s pretty rare. But just as importantly, it’ll strike you as the soundtrack to the coolest playa on the face of the earth and it does so by adeptly playing with your expectations.