Despite Covid-19 being a disastrous event for the world, the country music community has bounced back and many artists have supported their fans by releasing great new music. Now, we have Cassadee Pope’s new acoustic album – which sits very nicely with the new music of her peers.
Her latest album features eight acoustic tracks that are beautifully written, covering topics from lost love to celebrating success. This follow-up to her 2019 independent release, ‘stages’, further showcases her as a top vocal talent within the pop-country world.
The record opens with ‘Let Me Go’, a song about a toxic relationship and the redemption that could be found at the end of it. From the very first verse of this song, it is clear just how accomplished Pope’s songwriting skills are, and it comes as a surprise to hear that this is Pope’s first record where all songs were written or co-written by herself.
The album focuses on a lot of different stories and themes though, and the second song is in a different world to ‘Let Me Go’. ‘Hoodie’ starts with a catchy ‘do-do’ opener and is a fun song about reminiscing about an ex-boyfriend. You can really hear what fun Pope is having on this song, and it features a more playful side to her music that we haven’t seen before.
In terms of production, this album was co-produced by Todd Lombardo, and the vocals were recorded in just two days at Blackbird Studios in Nashville. This speedy nature doesn’t reflect on the album, and it really feels like a lot of effort has been put into its sound. ‘California Dreaming’ features the beautiful melody and harmony of Pope and boyfriend Sam Palladio, which feels incredibly rich.
“Put an ocean in between us, but it still don’t work
I guess there ain’t no drownin’ out a California hurt”
A personal stand-out for me is ‘Hangover’, an acoustic version of a song that she released when she was a member of pop-punk band ‘Hey Monday’, co-written with Butch Walker. I was a massive fan of this band, and it was incredibly fulfilling to hear this song transformed into a country song. However, it will not just appeal to long-serving fans of Pope, as it’s playful and catchy for new and old fans alike.
The title track ‘Rise and Shine’ is another hopeful song on the record and asks the listener to stand up to challenges in their life; particularly relevant at the present moment.
‘Sand Paper’ is one of the more poppy-moments on the records, but has an infectious guitar backing that give it a real groove, despite it being acoustic. Very clever lyrically, too – a new take on negative lovers.
“Sand paper, keep wearing me down
‘Til I’m just about nothing at all”
The additional highlight on the album would be the closer, ‘Built This House’, which conveys Pope’s genuine pride with the success she has built up for herself. After years of grinding in country music after winning The Voice in 2012, it is lovely to see her step back and appreciate the success she has achieved.
This album is a beautiful release for Pope, that shows off a different, vulnerable side of herself. Here’s hoping that she makes a trip across the pond next year, to follow-up her hugely successful stint last year. Well worth a listen if you are a country-pop fan.