Cassandra Cole – Steps
Review by Joslyn Danielson
Cassandra Cole, the powerful pop vocalist with a punk edge, will be hitting the KJ’s Hideaway stage on May 7th to release her newest album, “Steps”.
The extremely relatable lyrics focus on mental health struggles – applicable to our post pandemic society. Spanning across pop, punk, and blues, the genres ingrained in this album conglomerate into what could be called emo pop…at first.
The album starts off quite hard, with pop-punk vibes from the Paramore era. The genres morph as you listen through, each track gradually softer (or at least more positive), perhaps an analogy of healing one’s mental health through years of work. The focus shifts to recovery and to the importance of having someone to support you through mental health issues.
Joe Beier (guitar) exhibits an impressive range of skill. The intricate plucking of an acoustic in “Steps” vastly contrasts the abrasive power chords of the earlier songs. Troy Griffin (drums) shows the same amount of experience in many genres. Crashing, punk-rock throwdowns are equally contrasted by intricate jazz beats, and acoustic percussion. His stripped-down percusion in “Steps” introduces an unexpected but somehow needed rap section, emotional and moving. There’s perhaps a bit of musical theatre influences from Cole, mostly in the descriptive narratives, as well as the focus on the vocal performance.
Jason Hafer’s production deserves credit as well, subtle yet packing a punch. The electronic elements added to the mostly live instrument band gives the album a modern edge, separating it from earlier pop and psychedelic influences of the 90’s and earlier.
“So Silent Final” was a pleasant surprise after so many dark themes. Upbeat and poppy, with fun guitar riffs, cute vocal slides, and a little doo-op vocal harmony. The chorus repeats, “It’s gonna be alright, this will pass, just get outta bed”. This track shows the fun side of Cole, organically goofing around in the studio by vocally imitating the high pitched guitar riffs to laughs from the band. The beachy, reggae vibes indicate themes of emotional healing and a more positive outlook.
This album to its core makes it clear to the listener that they are not alone in these hidden struggles. Cole’s vulnerable lyrics and emotional vocals cause the listener to open up and explore themselves a little deeper, feeling comfortable in knowing they’re not the only person out there feeling like they just need to take it one step at a time. Encouraging but melancholy, “Steps” is an album aptly named.