Cassadee Pope - 'Frame By Frame'
American singer-songwriter Cassadee Pope is perhaps best known for winning talent show The Voice US last year. Since then the singer has signed with country music label Republic Nashville and released her debut solo album Frame By Frame on 8th October.
Lead single from the album Wasting All These Tears received a strong critical reception - you can see my review here. Wasting All These Tears was released as a single on 31st May and was then followed by the album's first promotional countdown single You Hear A Song which was released on 13th August (since then 11, Good Times and Champagne have also been released as promotional singles) You Hear A Song has been a favourite of mine since I first heard it. Lyrically it is a really sweet song about anxieties in a relationship and Cassadee's powerful vocals do well, I would have liked to have had the production stripped back a bit though, you can hear it performed acoustically here.
Another favourite track of mine is album lead Good Times. The production and instrumentalisation gives the track an immediate party feel with a driving drum beat and guitar accompaniment. Whilst listening to the album I have found myself repeating this track frequently. The lyrics heighten that sense of a party with lines such as "it's time to sing about the good times" and "I need some crowd participation I wanna see you going wall to wall". Good Times is definitely a good choice for the lead track of the album and sets up the rest of the tracks well.
One of my main criticisms for this album would have to be the production levels on a lot of the tracks. Cassadee has a very strong voice and there are points through the majority of the songs where the production is just overpowering and not at all needed. Easier To Lie and 11 are possibly the best in terms of the production and overall instrumentalisation, with the former led by a soft drum beat and guitar hook and the later led by a mandolin. There aren't many softer songs on the album and I would like to see more of them as I think the softer tracks really suit Cassadee who shows herself to be a competent story-teller.
On this point Proved You Wrong is probably my least favourite song. The chorus particularly is too overpowering when a softer production would have worked just as well and added a different dimension to the track. At about 2:30 the instrumentalisation strips back and allows the focus to be more upon Cassadee's vocals - it would be nice to see more of this.
1) Good Times - Nathan Chapman, Sarah Buxton, Blair Daly
2) Champagne - Hillary Lindsey, James T. Slater, Ben West
3) Wasting All These Tears - Caitlyn Smith, Rollie Gaalswyk
4) I Wish I Could Break Your Heart - Gordie Sampson, Ashley Monroe, Jon Green
5) Everybody Sings - Cassadee Pope, Daly, Troy Verges
6) You Hear A Song - Pope, Chapman
7) This Car - Pope, David Hodges, Sampson
8) One Song Away - Lindsey, Verges, Aaron Pearce, Mike Green
9) Easier To Lie - Max Martin, Shellback, Savan Kotecha
10) 11 - Pope, Chapman
11) Proved You Wrong - Pope, Emily Shackleton, Phil Barton
Good Times, Everybody Sings, You Hear A Song, Easier To Lie and 11.
Securely a country-pop album, Frame By Frame is a strong debut from Cassadee that shows her songwriting talents (with her best co-writes being 11 and You Hear A Song in my opinion) and strong vocals. As I have mentioned the appeal of the album is sometimes lost in the, at times, excessive production and instrumentalisation. A lot of the videos of Cassadee's live performances show her singing the tracks acoustically and this works really well, so I hope that we will see more of this in the future. I would still suggest that music fans go and buy this album but would probably suggest listening to a few of the songs first.