The Soft Cavalry – The Soft Cavalry

As The Soft Cavalry, Steve Clarke and Slowdive's Rachel Goswell present a highly-textured and intricate album that tackles the paradoxes of adulthood

Album Review by Duncan Harman | 03 Jul 2019
  • The Soft Cavalry – The Soft Cavalry
Album title: The Soft Cavalry
Artist: The Soft Cavalry
Label: Bella Union
Release date: 5 Jul

'If only I could change the way I count' sings Steve Clarke on album closer The Ever Turning Wheel. It’s a revelatory lyric; a peek at inner monologue, the metronomic mechanics of self, and an indication of the record’s texture. This is an adult listen – the paradox of being a grown-up, where we’re all supposed to know what it is we’re doing, but few of us actually do.

The Soft Cavalry is a husband and wife affair, with Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell alongside Clarke. There's a similar, vernal undercurrent to her ‘day-job’ outfit, perhaps, but The Soft Cavalry’s latticework features much besides. Tidal hooks and obtuse, unexpected chord structures are framed against moments of backlit, butterfly grace on tracks such as recent single Bulletproof, or the Goswell-led Passerby.

Musically there’s a surprising amount going on – swathes of piano, brooding synth, woodwind, eidetic guitar, and a late 90s rock vibe subjugated by the intelligence of its songcraft and the confidence to be itself. Mountains even channels the spirit of a Harry Nilsson number while resolutely being The Soft Cavalry. The words, too, represent a form of honesty. Clarke and Goswell’s voices curl in and around each other, thought and feeling nudged, probed, exposed.

The album’s highlight is undoubtedly its final track, the near-seven minute The Ever Turning Wheel, flexing through the contours of the epic finale without ever appearing sticky or over-earnest (itself a feat that’s easy to get wrong). It's a track whose presence is indicative of the record as a whole: tender, considered, personal. 'Call off the race, I’m thumbing my way back to you', and the listener may find themselves agreeing.

Listen to: Bulletproof, The Velvet Fog, The Ever Turning Wheel