Having first hit the music industry in pop group Hey Monday, before being thrust into the spotlight as a contestant on – and eventual winner of – The Voice USA in 2012, Cassadee Pope’s career has continued to skyrocket ever since.
Her latest – and hotly anticipated collection – titled Stages, addresses relationships, the shock of heartbreak and the utter joy that comes from the discovery of new love, all with a pop-country feel. Opening numbers, and 2018 releases, “Take You Home” and “One More Red Light”, get the album off to a strong start, the R&B rhythm of “Take You Home” in particular working brilliantly alongside Pope’s impressive vocals while “One More Red Light” is fairly easily the most country sounding inclusion on the album.
There’s a slight rock undertone to “How I Feel Right Now” before the album shifts into heartbreak mode with the first of a few break up songs, “Bring Me Down Town” which sees the central character of the song finally realising how futile it is to look back on and think about a former relationship – what’s gone is gone; move on.
If there’s any highlight on the album, it comes via latest single “If My Heart Had A Heart” – a brilliant little number which showcases every inch of Pope’s undeniable talent, while lyrically, it just screams to be played in arenas around the world with thousands upon thousands singing along to lyrics like “It would cut me some slack, have my back, it would give me a break.” With a great beat and thanks to it being damn catchy, this is a radio (and hopefully chart) hit if ever there was one.
Written almost like an open letter to the new companion of an ex, “FYI” will resonate with anyone who has loved and lost and seen someone who used to be theirs happy (or maybe not) with someone else. Lyrics like “Sorry, I’m not sorry, it’s not my problem anymore” have an air of girl-power confidence about them while the song as a whole is upbeat enough to have listeners tapping their toes or dancing along wherever they might be when they hear it.
The musical interlude “Gavi” is a touching, piano solo tribute to Jasaon Gaviati, who died in 2015. Personally this piece resonated with me quite strongly, and lingered with me long after it had finished. It’s great to see an artist pay tribute to one of their own in this manner and Pope should be very proud of it.
The heart-break sentimentality of the album continues with “Don’t Ask Me” before the mood shifts into a slightly more upbeat mode thanks to “Still Got It”, while closing number “I’ve Been Good” – yes, that old expression we all use perhaps more than we should when we’re hiding how we really feel – will find a home with anyone who has put on a brave, confident face in front of an ex before.
Stages as a whole is a brilliant collection of songs that showcase Pope’s growth both as an individual and more importantly as an artist. A talent to be reckoned with, on the back of this album, her already strong fan-base and her impact and place in the music world, can – and should – only grow stronger.
Header photo credit: Jeff Nelson.