For those who haven’t followed Cassadee Pope‘s solo career, ‘Rise And Shine’ feels like quite the hop away from her time in Hey Monday, the band which launched her into the industry.
Indeed, on this new full-length effort, Pope has purged herself of her pop-punk roots and consumed the kind of bubblegum country-pop that is reminiscent of Taylor Swift‘s early years.
Songs like ‘Hoodie’ are cute if a little juvenile, powdering us with a gentle nostalgia that hangs lightly on the skin without sinking too deeply in. Lyrically, her tone is soulful yet light-hearted; in the typical county style, each song is story driven, but the tales fail to penetrate the surface.
Some salt is mixed in with the sugar for ‘Hangover’, on which the chorus smacks of the pop-punk style that Pope set the groundwork for herself for all those years ago. It’s a welcome change of tone that sweats out the toxins of a toxic relationship, like alcohol the morning after the night before.
At times, however, ‘Rise And Shine’ almost plays like satire. ‘California Dreaming’ is a typical Texan away from Texas song, despite the fact that Pope is Floridian. Moments such as this makes the content feel almost inauthentic, as if Pope is playing a character and is keeping her true self locked somewhere deep beneath generically gentle finger-picked guitar and soft, southern-twanged vocals.
The album ends with an unexpected note of empowerment. The title-track along with closer ‘Built This House’ advocate female independence in a very personal way. They preach the importance of building yourself up without the help of someone else. It’s a valuable message that encourages listeners to find happiness within themselves before seeking it elsewhere. However, it could have benefited from some deeper dissection.
‘Rise And Shine’ is a playful country offering from an ex-pop-punker designed to be taken at face value, yet it’s hard to escape the feeling that it’s an overall restrained piece of work. Subtle politics and facades might be the safer option, but it would be nice to see Cassadee Pope slip off the mask and break out of this comfort zone in future releases.
People’s poet. Music and film blogger. South Park goth kid.