Cassadee Pope Builds New EP From The Ground Up

'The Voice' winner lays a firm foundation for the future of her career with 'Rise and Shine.'

Written by Lindsay Williams
Cassadee Pope Builds New EP From The Ground Up
Cassadee Pope; Photo credit: John Shearer

Cassadee Pope’s new acoustic EP, Rise and Shine, can be summed up in just four lines:

I built this house
From the foundation to the roof
It’s all me, baby
Blood, sweat and the truth

These may be the lyrics to standout album cut “Built This House,” but the autobiographical song tells the story of the entire EP—stripped down to the studs and entirely co-written and co-produced by Pope herself.

Cassadee Pope; Photo credit: John Shearer

“It was the first time that I really—from start to finish—made every single decision myself. I feel like I’ve really done this amount of co-producing on everything; this is just the first time I asked for credit,” the singer admits. “It’s a little scary, because it’s really all me this time; but I’m really proud of the way it turned out. Having a heavy hand in the whole process has been really rewarding.”

Rise and Shine introduces a more vulnerable, self-aware version of Pope, a picture of a girl finally confident in her own artistic skin. Yet, many of the collection’s eight new tracks are reflective of a previous period in time when she felt misunderstood. “I didn’t feel like anybody was really understanding what I wanted to do and understanding me, and it was sort of this weird place,” she shares of a darker season leading up to her sophomore album. “I had sort of evolved as a person and as an artist, but no one really understood where I was headed. And just personally, I felt really lost. I felt like I had no idea who I was.”

On Rise and Shine, Pope emerges as a vulnerable songwriter and a strong vocalist on an album void of shiny production. The acoustic nature of the final set, however, doesn’t follow the original plan. Initially, Pope had intended to record in-studio with a full-band; but COVID-19 made these sessions impossible. Instead of waiting until it was safe to record in a studio again, Pope decided to pivot.

“It sort of forced me to sit and think about the songs that I was going to go and record, and I actually realized it was a blessing in disguise,” Pope concedes. “I also thought the acoustic approach was really kind of reflective of where we are in this state that we’re in. There’s not a lot of things to focus on other than the song and the lyrics and the voice. So I thought that was kind of a parallel with where we are.”

Pope co-produced the entire record with guitarist Todd Lombardo (Kacey Musgraves, Ingrid Andress) via FaceTime and sang all the harmonies herself, with the exception of the background vocals on the nostalgic “California Dreaming,” which features harmonies from her boyfriend, Sam Palladio.

While the bare bones structure of the EP mirrors the current season of pause echoed around the world, Pope also hopes the emotion-laden tracks give listeners a sense of healing—even if it comes in the form of an ugly cry. “I hate the idea of someone turning on my song and then bawling to it, but if that’s what they need, then that’s what they need,” she says. “I hope that some of these songs give them permission to do that.”