The blockbuster debut Premier heralds the arrival of a major new talent. Few young performing artists can lay claim to the sheer variety of compositional and arranging skills that Cavier brings to bear on his first album. His tenure as part of the pop duo EyeTalk produced five albums and can rightly be regarded as his finishing school for this epochal first release. He covers an astonishing amount of space on Premier, veering comfortably from outright rock posturing into pleasing AOR balladry on songs like “Comes a Moment”. His voice is an immediately underrated instrument – Cavier shows the good sense, throughout, to never attempt stealing the spotlight from the songwriting though it is apparent that his voice is capable of dominating the proceedings at any given moment. It is an apt illustration of the good taste that makes this such a memorable album from the start.
“January” starts Premier off with the sort of wide-screen, ambitious moment it deserves. The ambition, however, is deceptive. An initial listen emphasizes the song’s affability and its intelligence, but closer listens reveal one of Premier’s best efforts. This is fully rounded as few songs are. His lyrical content has a rare incisiveness that Cavier uses to explore personal issues in original ways. There are few tropes or clichés weighing down his self-examination. “Hope” has similar merits. Cavier is undaunted in his goal of depicting his personal truth behind that word and the musical backing never reaches for profundity when, instead, it settles for illumination and entertaining its target audience. The melody reveals itself gradually – nothing is ever rushed in these songs.
“Time Will Tell” is the first of a few songs on Premier that recall the glory days of MTV 1980’s pop music. Duran Duran is clearly a strong influence on some of these songs, but Cavier relies less on overwhelming the listeners with a synthesizer attack and, instead, integrates those elements into his sturdy melodic structures. He does exhibit a love for the decade’s big drum sound, but his sense for dynamics allows him to use them as a chance to create additional dramatic effects. “Burning Away” is one of the album’s harder edged moments and never overstays its welcome or sounds out of place when compared to the poppier material. Cavier summons the needed teeth and grit for a piece like this without ever overstressing those effects.
“Pearl” is one of Premier’s best pure pop rock outings and works well within a singer/songwriter framework while still possessing considerable commercial appeal. “Promise” revisits some of the pop flair from earlier in the album, but it’s a more diffuse influence here and, instead, Cavier sounds like someone who has learned to fuse those styles together while retaining the best qualities of both. Premier concludes with the lovely instrumental “Jupiter”, an imaginative and melodic reminder that, before all else, Cavier is a superbly talented musician first and foremost and any notions of pop stardom flow from that central truth. This is as fine as debuts come. Premier will win over many and surprise even more.
9 out of 10 stars.
Written by Robert E. Fulford