Cassie Morgan

Pine So Sweet EP
(self-released)

On her first release, Cassie Morgan possesses the kind of voice that's self-assured and confident even when singing about loss, regret and doubt. On this five-song EP, her vocals are pushed so far to the front of the mix that it's like she's whispering in your ear. And, like an earthier Hope Sandoval, this is exactly the right effect for a singer like this. The production is suitably sparse — these songs don't need much more than an acoustic guitar to make their point, but the well-placed electric piano, brushed drums and reverberating electric guitar give Morgan a nice backdrop. "Paper Leaves," Pine So Sweet's pivot point, serves as a nice example of what Morgan is capable of — the sound of a distant shoreline sets the tempo as an acoustic guitar strums languidly along. The other instruments that float in — glockenspiel and slide guitar — add nice colors, but don't linger too long or get in the way. Morgan's songs operate in much the same fashion; they don't so much pierce the skin as burrow under it.

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