The Cavalry - Build Your Own Empire
Build Your Own Empire is the first release from one-man Nashville Rock outfit The Cavalry. Tristan Jackson, the songwriting vision behind the project, proves himself to be a wildly talented figure with this offering. He’s already established a reputation as a quality first-tier supporting actor, but Build Your Own Empire distinguishes him as a gifted vocalist and nuanced songwriting with a mastery over his chosen idiom. Jackson conjures up universal images through the prism of his own experience and creates eminently relatable tracks that will please a broad-based swath of the listening public. The EP’s five tracks follow a general similarity of plot, but there are important variations from song to song that help set them apart from each other. The collaborators he brings into the mix are another important factor in the music’s success. Jackson works with, among others, the songwriters of the group Love & Theft to craft a singular listening experience.
“Don’t Mean You’re Gone” is a resounding song with a light touch that brings together pleasing strains of melody with tone-setting drumming. Jackson carefully weaves the song’s various elements together in such a way that no one particular strain assumes prominence over the others and balances his vocal, as well, with expected attentiveness. None of the album’s songs risk over-indulgence and never run longer than four minutes. “Wake Up Call” is the album’s single ballad and, accompanied by guest vocalist Kristie Lane, soars high on its orchestrated texture and superb vocal performances from both singers. Like some of the EP’s other songs, “Wake Up Call” has an impressive amount of sound but never achieves such density that it slows up the track in a negative way. It comes at a great place in the running order because it gives listeners an entertaining one-two punch in tandem with the EP’s fourth song, “When the Radio’s Gone”. The commercial leanings of this song are much stronger than the earlier numbers and its mood, deliberate yet wonderfully organic, agrees wonderfully with the preceding song. Jackson excels with the big chorus and this is probably the best example yet of Jackson’s skill with this facet of songwriting. His vocal, likewise, underscores the strength of this part of his game.
“Red, White, & Blue Jeans” has a much more cluttered vibe than the earlier songs, but there’s still much of the melodic strength and southern rock attitude fueling this track that made the earlier numbers so memorable. Guest vocalist Nolan Neal brings a lot to the song without ever competing with Jackson for attention. It ends Build Your Own Empire on a rousing note that will pick up even the most jaded of music fans. Tristan Jackson has a rambunctious vocal edge that emerges on this album, but he has also has an impressive fluency that allows him to convincingly inhabit any style. The five songs on this EP have something to offer any listener of this style and should touch a wide audience of potential fans.
9 out of 10 stars