Ryan Cassata-Virginia, Pick Up The Phone

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Ryan Cassata probably doesn’t need my endorsement to sell records. He already enjoys a YouTube subscriber count over 60,000. But my job isn’t really to sell records, it’s to let you know if the music is any good-a job I take very seriously despite having a readership well below the above mentioned number (actually, well below half that number would be a nice one for me).

Virginia, Pick Up The Phone was recorded live, and it sounds like it. There are little imperfections, like the guitar sound on the title track is raw and would probably be fixed up if there was going to be any polishing done. Other spots in the EP are pretty flawless, like the vocals on “Pretty As She Falls.” I don’t know how many takes each song took, but I’m guessing that one was done in one shot.

This is Ryan’s first live release since getting his start in music. In the years since, he’s become a well-known public speaker and activist for LGBTQ rights, turned down American Idol because they were trying to exploit his identity, and became the first recipient of the Harvey Milk Foundation Award. He’s also appeared in films, so there’s a lot keeping him busy.

Still, music remains the passion and you can feel it through and through on this EP. My guess is there’s a lot of influence from mid-90’s pop singer/songwriters in Cassata’s music as well as some more standard people like Elliot Smith and Dylan. There’s a nasally delivery on the last two tracks “Just A Kid” and “Alcatraz” that harken back to Neutral Milk Hotel a bit, but more like R.E.M. covering NMH (in my mind).

You can pick up a copy of Virginia over at CDBaby for the low price of $5.99, and it’s certainly worth checking out.

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