I’m not really old enough to say this, but I’m going to anyways – pop music isn’t what it once was. With the wave of electronic pop out there, it’s easy to forget that singer/songwriters still exist in today’s music. Hopefully, us music listeners will go back to basics and remember that a piano and a voice is all you need to make a great song. We still have artists like Ben Folds, Ingrid Michaelson, and the resurgence of Fiona Apple as members of this exclusive club, but besides those three (and maybe a couple more), none have had truly great success as mainstream pop artists.
So where does that leave Cathy Heller? Her music has been on big shows including One Tree Hill and Switched at Birth, so she’s obviously getting some ground in music listeners’ self concious. But that alone won’t get you the notoriety that the aforementioned artists have gained. Her newest EP, Imagine Nation, is a bright and imaginative (see what I did there?) effort sure to bring a smile to many faces.
The five song, sixteen minute EP starts out with “Breaking Free,” a rousing clap-happy piece about finally reaching a point you were shooting for. The title track takes a rather simple piano part and transforms it into a beautiful inspirational tune – definitely ready for the radio/a music video. “Mr. Sun” is a happy simile-laden pop and bop song that could get little kids dancing along to the lyrics. The last track, “Love and Be Loved” sounds a bit like Regina Spektor’s “Fidelity;” the beautiful piano parts accompanying rather gleeful lyrics.
If I had any problems with it, it would probably be that it’s too happy. Don’t get me wrong, I love a happy song more than the next guy, but when there’s so much happy so an album – even an EP – you only expect something slower and a bit more serious. The third song “Fly Away Home” is the closest to that; it mentions moments of her childhood that have left a metaphorical mark on her, and how her life is so much better now that there’s someone in her life. This happens to be my personal favorite for the album, as it was a more of a feel-good story then a smile-all-the-time pop song. But hey, that’s just my taste.
Imagine Nation is a solid EP full of promise and smiley faces for all to see. Cathy Heller’s music is bright and vibrant, making an almost infectious smile pour upon the faces of the ones listening
Final Grade: B+