Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
Cassadee Pope gained a musical foothold thanks to winning "The Voice" in 2012 under the tutelage of Blake Shelton. What impact did TV have on the Florida native? One gets the sense that the songs (five written in part by Pope) were recorded with either the stage or radio in mind. There are a lot of big sounding songs here that would translate well to either stage or the airwaves.
The lead singer of pop rock band Hey Monday, Pope has a fine voice standing above the musical fray (and there's a lot to stand out in front of given that the music takes a decisive turn towards rock and pop on just about every song). Avril Lavigne comes to mind as a touchstone when Pope rocks; Sheryl Crow when she goes softer, but without the nuance.
But it's not until almost the very end that Pope shines the most. Without the musical clutter, Pope's pipes are put to even better effect on I>One Song Away, where emotion comes through.
But easily the highlight, by far, is, 11, a sad song about the break-up of a marriage from a kid's perspective spiced by acoustic guitar and mandolin from Jonathan Yudkin. The song is the most tender, heartfelt offering and the closest to the traditional side of country. But it's only fleeting because Pope ends with the thumping, guitar chord heavy Proved You Wrong.
Pope can't seem to avoid what seemingly every "country" singer does these days - adding a rap part to the music. She does so by turning on a dime during Everybody Sings, and it comes off as gratuitous and defies the flow of the rest of the 11 songs.
Perhaps that's the work of producer Dann Huff, whose musical muse always seems pointed towards the pop and rock side of country. Pope earned her stripes in a commercial setting and there is where she intends to stay.