When nation singer-songwriter Cassadee Pope started writing and recording for her second album in 2017, a “sophomore hunch” was the least of her worries.
Within a matter of months, she'd ended her engagement to drummer Rian Dawson, in addition to her partnership with a lot of the crew she’d been working with since successful The Voice in 2012. Naturally, songs poured overseas singer -- however regardless that heartbreak was on the core, Pope had by no means felt so assured in what she was creating.
“Instead of a bunch of individuals telling me why it may not work, it was me feeling actually assured in regards to the music that I need to do,” Pope says. “I knew that what I used to be writing and wanting to place out was good, and it was me.”
That music was Stages -- Pope’s first album in additional than 5 years -- which she launched independently on Feb. 1. The title is an ode to the life adjustments the 29-year-old has skilled since her final LP, centered on dropping love and discovering it once more.
The lyrics of songs like lead single “Take You Home” and present hit “If My Heart Had a Heart” are fairly simple, which makes them immediately related whether or not you’re mid-breakup or mid-honeymoon part. Pope says she didn’t give attention to being relatable as she wrote the album, although. “I used to attempt for that,” she admits. “But [Stages] is so private, it’s arduous for me to suppose, ‘This might be about one thing else.’”
Her easy vulnerability is what makes Stages’ 11 tracks so impactful, one thing she felt herself whereas recording “Take You Home” in 2017. One of solely 4 tracks Pope didn’t co-write on Stages, the track took on a brand new that means within the studio after initially listening to it when -- as she places it -- “issues weren’t a loopy mess but.”
“I reduce ‘Take You Home’ throughout my breakup, and it was a very nice escape for me,” Pope recollects. “I discovered a number of consolation within the track, and it jogged my memory, ‘There’s going to be a brand new starting finally, and also you’re going to be okay.’” Her new starting is mirrored within the two tracks that comply with on the album, “One More Red Light” and “How I Feel Right Now,” the latter of which was notably impressed by her new relationship with Nashville star Sam Palladio.
But whereas new love performed a job in Pope’s confidence on Stages, maybe much more pivotal was the truth that she made it on her personal phrases. One factor Pope needed to do was work with mates, so she recruited shut buddies (and fellow nation stars) Lauren Alaina, Lindsay Ell and RaeLynn for background vocals on “Distracted”; and likewise had Dan + Shay’s Shay Mooney add harmonies to “If My Heart Had a Heart.” Neither track formally credit featured artists, which Pope felt was essential to retaining Stages extra private than business.
Another pal Pope contains on the album is the late Jason “Gavi” Gati, one in all her earliest collaborators and closest mates who handed away from Burkitt’s lymphoma in 2015. Fans can hear Gati on the 90-second piano interlude “Gavi,” an precise recording Pope as soon as obtained from the musician years in the past. Pope -- who has a tattoo in honor of Gavi -- knew she needed to incorporate some form of tribute on Stages, discovering the right match whereas scrolling by way of outdated voice memos from him.
“It was actually loopy listening to [the piano recording], as a result of it's unhappy, it's comfortable, it's hopeful; it has moments of darkness and moments of happiness,” Pope says. “That's what the file is, so I simply felt prefer it actually tied the album collectively.”
Another method Pope made Stages 100 % private was permitting herself to specific something she was feeling -- most prevalent in “FYI,” a warning to her ex’s new girlfriend that he’s nonetheless flirting along with her (“Said if he kissed me that it wouldn't be cheatin'/ You can run with it, do with it what you want,” she sings on the refrain). The feisty track is the one observe on Stages that has Pope involved about sharing just a little an excessive amount of, however knew it was needed.
“That one was simply an emotion that I actually wanted to get off my chest, and I used to be happy with with the ability to write a track about it,” she admits. “I’m not tremendous happy with that emotion, however it’s actual, and if I simply attempt to write songs that don’t offend anyone or push the boundary, I’m simply form of being secure. And I don’t need to be that form of artist.”
Pope’s course of for Stages helped her notice how far she’s come as a songwriter since beginning out fronting pop-punk group Hey Monday (“I believe [17 year old me] could be like, ‘Oh my God, I can write like that?’” she laughs). She additionally reached a way of closure by translating her emotions into music, particularly whereas recording “If My Heart Had a Heart” and “I’ve Been Good,” one other breakup observe. “I got here into my very own,” Pope declares. “I felt good, I liked myself, lastly. I simply knew myself, and it was a very highly effective second.”
Now that Stages is out, Pope is getting ready to deliver the songs to levels throughout North America when she joins Maren Morris for The Girl Tour in March, then headlines CMT’s Next Women of Country Tour in April and May. With new materials and newfound confidence in tow, Pope is prepared for no matter levels come her method subsequent.
"I can slip into these feelings to sing these songs, however I can come out of it and be like, ‘Alright, let's exit tonight' – which is nice, [because] I’m positively not an excellent cry-singer,” she jokes. “I really feel so answerable for my life and my feelings, and that feels actually good.”