The Roam

Cassandra House

Independent release, 2018

http://www.cassandrahouse.net

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/07/2018

I’m not nearly qualified to say whether Long Island is in fact the new Brooklyn, but damn, there’s a lot of talent lurking out there east of the NYC limits.

Cassandra House is a young singer-songwriter who’s part of the remarkably fertile Long Island scene that in recent years has brought us Last Charge of the Light Horse, Butcher’s Blind, Pete Mancini, Bryan Gallo, Robert Bruey and more. House’s full-length debut The Roam features a pair of players I’m familiar with from that scene, Jonathan Preddice on cello and Chris Marshak on drums, as well as David March on bass and Anthony Pravata on guitars.

In terms of comparables, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Neko Case and Patty Griffin are fair names to mention, thoughtful singer-songwriters working within the big tent of Americana, but with the ability to take a song in any direction, whether it be folk, country, rock or blues. The Patty Griffin connection is strengthened by the presence of co-producer Ben Wisch, whose lengthy resume includes albums by the likes of Griffin, Marc Cohn, David Wilcox, and Kathy Mattea.nbtc__dv_250

The opening title track establishes House’s range immediately, starting out acoustic, all softness and restraint, before ramping up and blossoming nicely into a showcase for her powerful voice as she sings of  “a circus of lost souls” she encounters on her roam. “Little Flower” is more direct in the sense it starts out bigger and bolder, an assertive folk-rock number with forceful vocals.

Preddice’s presence is especially welcome on “Little Flower,” where the cello adds dimension and impact to the basic melody, and again on “Alone Without You,” where it heightens the inherent drama of a song in that familiar ’90s Paula Cole – Chantal Kreviazuk –Sarah McLachlan bold-and-echoey vein.

The tempo of the album eases up in the middle, with the smoky meditation “Danger, Danger” giving way to the similarly contemplative “Giving Up The Gun.” “Eyes” takes a brighter turn, a thoughtful tune looking back at “how it all went wrong” with sharp support from the entire band, and “Tidal” surges appropriately, from slumbering verses to billowing choruses.

This eight-song, 41-minute album closes out with another highlight, the heartfelt blues “Goodnight Marionette,” where House pushes her commanding, expressive voice into Susan Tedeschi territory—a compliment indeed—as her band again provides terrific backing.

House is a chameleon in the best sense of the word, able to transition seamlessly from gentle acoustic songstress at album’s open to belting blues singer in its final moments. The Roam is well put-together from start to finish, with solid songwriting, a crack band, excellent production and House’s very pretty and deceptively powerful voice at the center of it all. Cassandra House clearly has a story to tell and The Roam suggests she’ll have many more opportunities to tell it.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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