Don Cavalli – Temperamental

written by: August 8, 2013
Album-art-for-Temperamental-by-Don-Cavalli Release Date: August 13, 2013


With a short lick on a deep-funky Wah-soaked guitar, the title track of Don Cavalli’s Temperamental kicks off. After a quick, bluesy key-change, Cavalli sings, “No wonder why baby, I’m sitting here thinking,” making the beginning of Temperamental sound like it’s jumping in halfway through a heated conversation.

Cavalli’s music is temperamental itself, never resting on a single feeling or sound. Each instrument has its own disposition and each voice Cavalli assumes has a different personality.

In “Garden Of Love,” Cavalli takes on an old western, Ennio Morricone feel and fuses it with his pop sensibility. A dainty-sounding riff on an electric piano pops in every few measures, but the song tries to maintain a rough edge with Cavalli’s bluesy drawl and doggish croons.

His work is straight to the point; the intros are sparse and the songs are compact. On “Santa Rita,” Cavalli fires right in, and distant violins sing every once in a while amidst guitar trills. The track slows down to half time for the chorus, and just as easily jumps back into the groovy, bass-driven verse.

Temperamental doesn’t fully pick up until “Gonna Love You.” Psychedelic guitars twang in the way of a perfectly cheesy sitar. Cavalli sings like it’s a blues song, and a reggae organ pipe steps along to a raw, 8-bit beat that sounds like a pre-programmed beat on a keyboard, but it’s groovy nevertheless.

Starting off like a Beatles track, “The Greatest” begins with choppy guitar and a melodica, with vocals dancing simply around its melody. The bluegrass twang of a banjo then makes a subtle entrance. The next song, “Feel Not Welcome,” has a little country ditty on the guitar that is quickly replaced by a heavy beat and an electric sitar.

Cavalli has a knack for concocting different styles, whether the blend is discreet or obtrusive.

Tempermental is a concise album, and the five years Cavalli took to write it paid off. Odd expressions of old rock and roll are infused with world music and wrapped up in funky songs with psychedelic leanings. The flip side of this is that Cavalli gets caught in simple structures.

“Zundapp” is another track with a basic format, but its grooviness is still satiating. The dancey guitar trots along while Cavalli’s wonky voice keeps pace. Calm progressions voice themselves in the background, but are still hardly noticeable. It’s a gem of the album because it defies the criticism of simplicity.

Cavalli is a talented songwriter; his absurd sonic combinations are forward thinking, though his progressive qualities end there. Everyone can find something to like on Temperamental because Cavalli manages to incorporate nearly every style of music.

However, in these well-placed tributes, Cavalli lacks the nuances of a musician who focuses on a certain style. The songs are cut-and-dry and they have no time to develop, sway, and resolve.

Cavalli has his own thing, and it’s not fancy. He has a similar sentiment to Tom Waits, though his music is worlds more docile than Waits’ work. Temperamental is Cavalli’s take on a frantic and scatterbrained world, and he mimics this with his erratic and jovial music, so bless him for that.

Don Cavalli – Temperamental tracklist:

  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. “Say Little Girl (feat. Rosemary Standley)”
  11. “Row My Boat”