From making her start as a powerhouse pop punk vocalist with ‘Hey Monday’ to becoming a country-pop starlet, Cassadee Pope has always displayed a powerful versatility in her genre styling and vocal performances. Her brand-new album ‘Thrive’ builds upon this breadth of knowledge and experience by introducing a unique sonic landscape. Pope’s new voyage effortlessly blends melodic pop punk with country-pop lyrical sensibilities. Supporting this exploration into the country-pop punk sub-genre, with masterful direction, are producers Karen Fairchild (Little Big Town) and Nick Wheeler (All American Rejects). The combinatory influences of Fairchild and Wheeler are evident throughout the 13-track work of art which is likely to continue to excel the growth of the emerging country pop punk sub-genre (see artists such as Taylor Acorn, Kalie Shorr and others.)
Immediately setting the tone for the album is the overture ‘Welcome’. It is evident that the heavy bass guitar and percussion associated with pop punk will be the dominating instrumental theme throughout the work. In a nod to her previous musical stylings ‘Same Old Brand New Me’ is the listeners first unique look at the combination of pop punk melody with country lyricism. Making a statement that:
“No matter where I go or where I’ve been.
I know my soul beyond my skin”
Pope is setting down in stone that she is clear that this is the style of art which she wants to create. A track of reminiscence and acceptance, it begins the run of excellent melodies led to further greatness by a lyrical self-assessment and awareness which even the greatest songwriters would be envious of.
The next three tracks complete the trilogy of singles Pope has released as teasers to the album and new sound. ‘Tomorrow Night’, ‘What The Stars See’ and ‘Say It First’ are excellent choices for singles. Whilst the trilogy provides a great insight into the new sound Pope is developing, they also provide three exceptional examples of how country lyricism can be deployed across the genre spectrum. The addition of co-producer Fairchild and Canadian Country artist Lindsey Ell provide a welcome additional layer of support to Pope’s excellent tone in ‘What The Stars See’.
‘Break Too’ outlines the emotional turmoil of breaking another’s heart and the confusion of emotions experienced as a result of the situation. As Pope eloquently puts it:
“Just ‘cause you break a heart,
doesn’t mean your heart don’t break too.”
In the inverse of ‘Break Too’, ‘Thrive’ tells the tale of how removing the emotional baggage of another can actually be beneficial and lead to a newfound freedom in which you can actually ‘Thrive’ rather than solely survive.
“I should probably thank you,
maybe raise a drink to,
everything I gained when I cut you loose.”
The latter half of the album is truly exceptional. A combination of clever melody with introspective lyricism creates an almost therapeutic feeling of belonging. This is clearly a result of Pope’s ability to write with a purpose. ‘Mind Your Own’ featuring Stephan Jenkins is a brilliant statement of how others should mind their own business. A very appropriate exploration of privacy given the issues surrounding anonymity and vocal commenting of the social media age. ‘Some People’ is a statement of how individuals can change but in the case of the romantic protagonist “Some people ain’t you.”. This is a track which highlights the ability of Pope (and her collaborators) to combine the narrative nature of country music lyricism with the instrumentalism and tone of pop-punk.
Pope has a unique talent for building sass and exquisite hooks into her tracks. ‘Just a Girl’ is a prime example of this. Filled with exuberance, which is enhanced by the percussive beat, the track is likely to be a firm favorite with those who are experiencing their significant other receiving some unwanted attention. ‘Remedy’ begins to slow the pace of the album as the album beings to approach its end. The track is a vulnerable, introspective look at Pope’s emotional difficulties and how that special person can be a remedy to being your “own worst enemy”.
‘Sis’ and ‘No Now’ bring the work to an excellently satisfying conclusion. In particular, ‘No Now’ brings Pope’s incredible raw vocals to the forefront. An acoustic guitar lays the foundations for an emotional and powerful vocal performance. Highlighting Pope’s prowess as a singer-songwriter and vocalist, the track is a highlight in an album filled with an array of brilliant material. Through bringing the track to a sweet acoustic end ‘No Now’ feels like the palate cleanser after an exceptional meal.
‘Thrive’ is an exceptional display of Pope’s ability to blend genre. The 13-track release is a work of art and a brilliant display of how the fluidity of a genre can allow an artist to produce accolade worthy works of musical art. It is evident that Pope was born to produce Country Pop-Punk. A genre sure to gain further traction with the help of the brilliant piece of work that she has created.