The second album from Phoenix based singer/songwriter Jonathan Cavier, Blue Room, solidified the strides he made with his initial solo offering Premier and expanded mightily upon its promise. This 2017 release culminated, in some ways, the second lap of Cavier’s journey through popular music that began years before with his first brush with fame and critical accolades as one half of the duo EyeTalk. His latest release is nothing less than a re-envisioning of Blue Room working alongside famous engineer Nico Essig that remixes the album’s music, revises many of the original vocals, and refurbishes the album as a whole with a new and distinct sound. It also brings new material into the mix. The results prompt nothing less than a full re-evaluation of Cavier’s second album since, in many ways, these added measures basically constitute an entirely new release. Such a quick reversal from an album’s original sound isn’t a sign of second-guessing his initial intentions; instead, it shows Cavier’s relentless creativity feeling full license to look back at its accomplishment and perceive opportunities to further refine what he’s already done.
The album is split between sophisticated commercially minded pop and assertive light rock. Songs like the title track, “Hollywood”, “Phoenix”, “Right Place”, and the finale “Thank You Letter” use confident and fluid electric guitar work to give an air of rugged physicality to Cavier’s music largely absent on his debut Premier. The guitar presence is strongest, beginning to end, on the title track and the finale, but “Hollywood” showcases some hot lead playing and “Phoenix” and “Right Place” bring the electric into a larger framework incorporating percussion and light keyboard color. The title track is absolutely ideal for radio play and it is to Cavier’s credit as a songwriter that he can bring such sharp rock chops to bear while never forsaking melodic content.
The lighter numbers on the Blue Room remix aren’t trifles and never pander for the listener’s attention. “When You Come Around”, “Far Away”, and “Everything in Our Dreams” are among the jewels with this sound and centered on acoustic guitar and unobtrusive percussion. The first and last of that trio are particularly distinguished thanks to the superb vocal performances they garner from Cavier. “Somebody Like You” is another winner, one of the album’s best tunes in fact, and takes Cavier’s capacity for delicacy to levels the other songs never reach. Nico Essig’s contributions to this remix are immeasurable, but everything begins and ends with Cavier’s talents and he’s fortunately talented enough to carry the day. His remix of Blue Room compels us to re-examine the album from top to bottom and it never comes up wanting. Jonathan Cavier’s road to this moment in his career seems to have him poised for even bigger steps to come, but it will be a long time before listeners forget the fluency and melodic power of Blue Room. It’s one of the year’s best releases in any form.