POZ Review: Cassadee Pope - Frame By Frame
by Ali Killian, edited by Erik van Rheenen
Questions of uncertainty ran through my head when former Hey Monday vocalist Cassadee Pope announced she would be competing on “The Voice.” Cassadee’s signature vocals were easily my favorite in the pop-rock sphere, and though I’m a fan of country music, I still felt that pang of doubt when she selected country star Blake Shelton as her mentor on the show. But, I knew she grew up singing country, and I figured this was the route she really wanted to travel, so I pushed my worries aside, supported her in the endeavor and waited for the new music to surface.
Unfortunately, Pope’s debut solo album Frame By Frame struck me as a pop album trying to conform to country standards of a far lower quality than she normally produces. The cookie-cutter record was released on Republic Nashville, which was co-founded by Universal Republic and Big Machine Records — the two labels that first worked together to launch Taylor Swift into stardom. Though Pope is still the same vocal powerhouse with great storytelling ability, the record feels overproduced and forced; it’s clearly meant to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, probably to ride out the rest of “The Voice” hype while she can. Though, the quality does seem to grow as you get deeper into the album; I think the last two tracks are the only ones that truly hit that distinctive pop-rock-country target, and are the only ones that really demonstrate Cass’ talent.
The record opens with “Good Times,” a cheesy, radio-ready track that seems to serve a marketing purpose more than anything else. The music sounds computer-generated, and the vocal twang and abbreviatin’ just misses the boat on sounding natural, causing the whole song to sound artificial. The chorus gives subtle dance instructions, and one pair of lyrics even says, “I need some crowd participation / I want to see you going wall to wall.” It’s just typical — something Pope has not ever been.