Swinging country with love and heartbreak as lyrical themes.
Cassie Jean Barbaresi is a Texas-born singer-songwriter and, topically, a soccer player who stills plays and also coaches her sons’ teams. She and her partner, Rich Odato, went into the studio in 2020 when COVID was affecting the US and wrote their first album consisting of 14 tracks of mainly country music that really swings and sounds as if they very much enjoyed making it. It is the sort of sunny music that would be the perfect accompaniment to a drive on a hot summer’s day through parched countryside.
Barbaresi is the focus of the group with her beautiful voice and charismatic presence, playing acoustic guitar. Odato accompanies her, mainly picking and using slide styles on a resonator guitar, but also on acoustic and electric guitar. John Miller plays bass and YouTube star Sammy “Barefoot” Warren is on drums. There is also fiddle and mandolin provided by Nashville musicians on some tracks which give a bluegrass feel to ‘Ain’t Nobody Gonna Bother Me’ and ‘What Are We Waiting For’, for example, but no steel guitar on any. The album was produced and engineered by Grammy-winning Bud Snyder, who has worked with The Allman Brothers and Gov’t Mule, amongst others.
Although the record would be classified as country music, there are other genres in evidence. ‘Sun Don’t Rise (Just To Hear You Crow)’ and ‘The Remedy’ are bluesy, while ‘I’ve Got You’, ‘Quick Trip to Hell’ and ‘Grammy’s Chicken Soup’ have a soulful feel to them. B3 Hammond organ has been added to many of these tracks to enhance the blues/soul sound. The lovely title track ‘Heart Over Head’ has an Irish folk influence to it.
Throughout the record the melodies are strong, but ‘Mrs Mavis’, ‘Turn The Page’, ‘Long Way Round’ and ‘Tomorrow’ are particularly good. ‘Tomorrow’ keeps popping up in your head and just makes you want to sing along with it in a most joyful way. As you might expect with country music, the lively music belies Barbaresi’s darker lyrics which deal with the joys but more often the sorrows of life. She writes poetically and in more detail than many songwriters. Being treated badly by a man is the theme of ‘Sun Don’t Rise’ but then several songs urge carrying on after heartbreak even when all hope seems lost. In ‘Tomorrow’ she writes:
“We never heal as hard as we are hit
That’s why we carry what we will never forget
Just hold to the hope of tomorrow”
However, Barbaresi sings of finding love on ‘All My Life’ and of being a true friend on ‘I’ve Got You’. The theme of many of the songs, that you should follow your dreams, is a positive one. If you like country music, this album is highly recommended.