Guest Playlist: Nathan Cavaleri – The songs that influenced “Demons”

Sydney’s Indie Rock/Blues artist Nathan Cavaleri has recently released his new single “Demons”. The result of a period of personal confrontation and struggle, “Demons” is a striking mix of psychedelic guitar, and swampy riffs, and the next step in an already distinguished, (albeit perhaps unheralded) career.

There have been highs; at the age of twelve Cavaleri was at the centre of a label bidding war, at sixteen he’d toured with B.B. King and played at the Kennedy Centre in front of The Clintons, with Etta James and Bonnie Raitt. But, there have also some struggles, in 2010, following a battle with insomnia and anxiety, Cavaleri took four years out to regain his confidence and drive. It was during these years that “Demons”, and his forthcoming EP, began to take shape.

Cavaleri has put together a playlist of the songs that influenced the creation of the single. As you can see, there are some quite differing artists, but we’ll let Nathan tell you more:

There were many contradicting influences that drove me to make the decisions I made throughout the creation process of “Demons”. There wasn’t one song that served as an anchor, but a handful that sub-consciously inspired various ideas – Be it, overall production pallet, vocal approach or arrangement. Here are three that regularly popped into my head.

Bahamas – “Christmas Must Be Tonight”

I love Bahamas for their warm lush production, his easy velvety voice and the slightest implication of psychedelic guitar sounds/fx. Their cover of The Band’s “Christmas Must Be Tonight” made me melt. It’s such a beautiful arrangement, with my favourite element being the slide melody that kicks in over the chorus. If you listen closely, you’ll hear the slide guitar is a unison double of the main lead guitar which is played without a slide – giving it modulation type effect originally heard in Eagles songs throughout the 70’s and 80’s. It’s such a beautiful song.

Hemming – “Hard on Myself”

Again, the fuzzy slide unison double has me hooked. The melody is beautifully sad and desperate. Her voice hides no emotion and vulnerability. The lyric “I know you said let go, I’ve been too hard on myself for too long” is something I identify with. The uninterrupted repetitive scan of her vocals wants to make my eyes water, and the dreamy guitars in the background that weave in and out almost represents the wisdom of the person she’s singing to. Yet again, another artist that inspires me to write and play on the other side of my musical ego where it’s imperfect and real.

Ray Charles – “What Would I Do Without You”

There are a million amazing soul ballads, but this is one of my favourites because it’s raw and the arrangement has a point of difference. Unlike the usual 6/8th ballad beat, the band backs Ray with a simple heavy and swamp like groove, giving him all the breathing space in the world to express his despair. I feel his pain when his voice croaks on the higher notes and his band sounds as tired and heart broken as he does! Parts like these played at this tempo should technically create too much drag, but it doesn’t. Probably because it’s completely appropriate.

“Demons” is available now. Nathan will be hitting the road across October and November (Tour Dates below). Be sure to check out his Facebook and Twitter too. For more information on the tour, and tickets, click HERE

Sat 6 Oct: Mane Event Music Festival, Geelong
Sun 7 Oct: Bar Open, Melbourne
Sat 13 Oct: 5 Church Street, Bellingen
Sun 14 Oct: Panthers, Port Macquarie
Fri 26 Oct: Mo’s Desert Clubhouse, Gold Coast
Sat 27 Oct: Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Brisbane
Sun 28 Oct: Sol Bar, Maroochydore
Thu 1 Nov: 505, Sydney
Sat 3 Nov: Flow Bar, Old Bar
Sun 4 Nov: The Rhythm Hut, Gosford

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.