Track x Track: Nathan Cavaleri - Miracles
Announcing a national tour alongside the release of his new album today, acclaimed veteran Aussie singer-songwriter and guitar wiz takes us through Miracles track by track
Image credit: Mel Waring
If you grew up or were around in Australia in the 90s (e.g. me), odds are you came across the child prodigy who was Nathan Cavaleri, who overcame leukaemia at age 6 while playing guitar as a distraction from the disease. Just a few short years later, at just 10 years of age, Cavaleri released his debut album Jammin’ With Cats, after which he became a regular on national television, magazine covers and even a few films, with 1994’s Camp Nowhere and 1997’s Paws.
After an extended hiatus followed by playing in his own band Dirty Skanks, Cavaleri relaunched his solo career, culminating in his comeback album, 2020’s Demons.
Now, fast forward another three years and Nathan is back and better than ever, having readied his fourth album Miracles. Across 12 tracks, Cavaleri showcases his skills as a songwriter and musician, balancing skillful playing with catchy arrangements and compositions while touching on genres from bluesy psych rock to stripped back ballads and indie pop flavours.
Alongside the release of Miracles, Cavaleri has announced a massive national tour in support of his new record. To celebrate the release of Miracles, Nathan was kind enough to take us through the record track by track - have a listen and get to know, and see below for all tour dates!
Simple cushy drum, bass & acoustic foundations with echoey & screaming guitars. Lead vocals grounded in the lyric with spacious indie backings for expansiveness.
Querencia – Whilst it’s primarily a song about finding peace, strength & refuge within the self, the setting of the bull & matador represents the topic of masculinity in todays social scape. To me, the bull has traits of physical strength & size, confidence with unspoken emotions intrinsically wired to express fear as rage. The crowd encouraged taunting matador against the misunderstood unaware bull is how I see many “old schoolers” been treated today. The original demo was much cruisier but the re-creation has an urgency and desperation that better reflects the sentiment
Road trip vibes. Indie folk rock flavours with a bare bones “bop” funk beat.
Tour life rattles the pillars that many of us rely on to feel human - Sleep, food, familiar people & surroundings. For years this caused many psychological issues until it became my mission to find peace, strength & confidence despite circumstance (Querencia). With this shift in perception, touring has become an opportunity for personal growth. When I truly surrender to these experiences, I come back home feeling free & energised with memories that outshine past challenges. “Broken Lines” was written as a reminder of all the good that comes from touring. When I’m feeling weakened and lost, I only have to listen to it once to come back down to ground.
The track’s production needed to reflect the space, depth & expansiveness of life on the road. When recording, I’d put up pictures of the movie “Easy Rider” to put me in the mood. Its strut aligns with the quest for calmness & cool. Its melodies & chords reflect the roads travelled to get there.
Fiery yet cool - Speaker rattling guitars & sax, thumpin 80’s-esque rock beats – swaggery dark vocals that end with bellowing screams on lyrics that cut with clear messages about social behaviours and movements.
Whilst I don’t subscribe to “positive thinking”, I back “lens widening” which focuses on including all aspects of a moment or experience in order to keep perspective. From that place, I make the wisest decisions. Miracles was written during Covid when I was struggling not with fear but with anger. Anger that our perception of the world had been skewed by the constant bombardment of bad news. As a father of two, I wondered what would come of the new generation growing up at a time when education of world issues seem to be priority over the cultivation of imagination & youthful spirit. Miracles is a fiery call to action (particularly to younger generations) to remind themselves of all the unexplainable good that happens every minute of every day as well our challenges. To not let the “click bait landmines” effect perception of the world and its people in it. “Let everyday Miracles remind us of the good that comes from the unknown.
The most trivialised everyday Miracle is child birth, hence the cover art.
Gone To God
Intimate & vulnerable vocals, whimsical retro colours created with dusty late 60’s style beats, string arrangements & weeping slide guitars.
I carried around the terror of mortality for years. Its suppression was later discovered to be the root cause of my life crushing (awakening) challenges with anxiety. Pot holes turned into black holes where my body would react to an everyday challenge as if I was 7 years old sitting in the waiting room of Camperdown Childrens hospital being treated for Leukaemia. As an adult facing this fear, I looked up at the stars one night and I instantly morphed into the 7 year old me who had a magical wonderous & whimsical belief of life after death that ultimately cultivated a much healthier relationship with mortality. It made me ask the question, “Why am I now allowing the ever-evolving school of science to dictate my spiritual beliefs?”
“Gone To God” was written to express my fears & ask questions whilst getting in touch with my spirit. The production and arrangement chosen represents the place of wonderous and imaginative child-like energies that these questions were asked with.
A Co-write with Indie Rock artist TOMMY GUN. Indie folk rock beds with sweeping surf guitar melodies & spacious choruses.
A song inspired by surfs with TOMMY GUN and our chats about the importance of surrender. Much like “Broken Lines”, the reclined beat symbolises the cool calm and everything else represents emotional depths of struggle.
Not With You
Acoustic electric rock’n’roll soul ballad. The only love song on the album.
The sentiment of this song is an EXAGGERATION of a phase that my wife and I went through. Our worlds were different and our connections were fleeting. It made me mourn the spark we use to have. Separate magic moments with friends came with a feeling of sadness that I wasn’t having those moments with the one I love the most. In the end, I skewed it in my head for the purposes of art and wrote a song about it. You should have seen her face when she heard it for the first time at a gig as I sung the words, “I get off, not with you”! Made for an interesting post gig convo!
Sleazy downbeats, flirtatious bass lines, grimey fuzz guitars, dirty sax with more swagger on the mic.
Maybe a remedy to “Not With You” about breaking out of comfort zones to create spice? I was reading a lot of Esther Perel at the time! This track started as a riff and it’s sleaze inspired the sentiment. It was bangin to create & bangs even more live. I might have grabbed myself live on stream when recording the vocal to get the right take! Eeeek.
Man On Fire
Alt Rock’n’roll beat poetry track strangely inspired by Fat Boy Slim. Blues rock riffs with psych slide, growling Yadiki (Didjeridoo), played by Archibald Prize winner Blak Douglas, with a “breaking out” primal spirit that calls for a boundary breaking trip into the wild.
Man On Fire was a co-write with George Edwards – a singer songwriter that randomly approached me on socials. He shared a lofi webcam clip playing an original on an acoustic in his bedroom and confessed that he had developed a fear of the stage that kept him off it for years. Taking inspiration from my own journey, I helped him confront his fears through regular audio messages until he booked his first run of gigs and has been playing since! Man on Fire started off as a riff and a vibe, I invited the wordsmith to write lyrics.
A raw and imperfect, soft yet powerful acoustic and vocal lullaby.
A last minute addition to the album. This was created around our kids first day of school. As we watched them walk together through iron gates, my main hope was that the world would accept them for the boys that they are. Further, that THEY accept themselves for the boys that they are. Imperfections and all. Made me wonder how many of today’s issues are an oversteer from those who struggled to fit a certain mould.
Putting this song on the album was a scary decision for me because I had to let go of perfectionism. If it wasn’t for my audience on Twitch, I’d have re-recorded it and it would have lost its heart. Interesting parallel between production and sentiment.
Beautifully depressing, dark and haunting, lush and epic. One of the darkest songs I’ve written so far.
“Golden sails cold black seas, party on without me, call off security, I’ll go quietly. Let me unlace my leaden shoes, salt water’s turning into a muse, no apologies, I’ll go quietly”.
“Go Quietly” is an expression of how I felt around my friends during the darkest of days when I was mentally broken. I feared polluting their happiness bubble but then I felt abandoned as my calls for help were ignored. In turn, it showed me who my real friends were but it still hurt so I put it into a song. The line “salt waters turning into a muse” was inspired by Osher Gunsberg’s relay of his suicidal experience past the breakers at Bronte Beach.
Understated swamp riffs lit with fiery stomp drums and vocals energetically inspired by Screaming Trees Mark Lanegan and Tex Perkins. “Never sang so low in my life.”
"Dry Ice” is about fear – A protective mechanism that often oversteps – A phantom created by the imagination from exaggerations of the past. Only by learning about it, facing it, leaning into it, playing with it, teasing it, laughing at it and at times loving it was I able to see it for what it is and be free from it. The aggressive battle-like and audacious tones of the track represents the attitudes I sometimes need to bring out in myself in order to face fear.
When The Party’s Over
Tex Mex inspired instrumental of a Billie Eilish hit.
Roy Buchanan was one of my favourite guitar players. His weeping melodies and unorthodox approach to the fretboard tugged at my heart strings. Separately, I fell in love with Tex Mex tracks from when they were brought into the modern world by Tarantino. Guess the idea of bringing those flavours to one of my favourite Billie Eilish tracks made me curious and in the end, excited. I attempted singing it but the lyrics felt silly coming out of my mouth and felt like they’re best left for Billie and I’d let me guitar tell all. My version of “When The Party’s Over” both moves me but occasionally leaves me shaking my head at it’s OTT-ness but I couldn’t not go all the way!
- Nathan Cavaleri, June 2023