Cass Clayton Band’s vocals shine behind funky, R&B infused instrumentals on ‘Play Nice’
On their new album “Play Nice,” the first thing you’ll likely notice about the Cass Clayton Band is Clayton’s distinct and powerful voice. The way she uses her vocals in a variety of ways also must be acknowledged as something that makes her particularly stand out. Every note is hit with precision and flare.
Whether it’s god-given talent, hard-work, or a mixture of both, Clayton shines on the whole album. The tone of the entire work is funky, soul-driven rock and R&B, but each track has a distinct feel under that loose umbrella.
Something that gets overlooked in today’s music biz is how each track complements one another, which is a shame because on “Play Nice,” the band has complete control of that aspect. The album starts with a nostalgic, somewhat saddened tone on “Dawes County” before lightening things up on the title track and “Little Things.” It’s a little thing that might get overlooked, but, it’s worth pointing out all the same as something that was very clearly thought out and addressed by the band.
The feeling I keep coming back to throughout the album is what it feels like to be sitting in a lawn chair with a cold drink in one hand, listening to talented musicians pouring out their souls on stage while the sun shines down on us all. It reminds you of those days that you start to yearn for again in the throes of winter while the snow falls outside, if you live in places where it snows, that is.
While Clayton is clearly the star of the album, the band behind her complements her soulful voice with ease. If it’s the keyboards, drums, bass, pianos, or guitar, they fill in the spaces in a way that adds to the energy in a way that nothing else can possibly hope to replicate. My favorite band contribution has to be the piano solo on “Tattered and Torn,” although there isn’t a single note played that I didn’t find interesting or necessary.
Based in Colorado, the Cass Clayton Band has won a large assortment of awards for its last album (2018’s “Let’s Not Be Friends.”), and continues to gain recognition around the country. One of the most noticeable awards was the Album of the Year award from the Colorado Blues Society Members’ Choice Awards. More recently, Clayton was invited to be a voting member of the Recording Academy, and the band is headlining, or has headlined numerous festivals.
With “Play Nice,” Clayton claims that it was an ironic name for the album, saying, “Play Nice is an ironic title for this album, because I wasn’t really playing nice in the writing of these songs. That’s a departure from the norm for me, because I’ve always been careful to make sure people feel comfortable. I have a triple decker filter before my thoughts hit my tongue.”
With their tight chemistry, Clayton’s outstanding voice and their high-voltage energy present throughout the album, I for one hope that Clayton stops playing nice some more if the result is more work as well put-together as this one.