Country of origin:
Type of music generally:
Indie piano-based pop
Most recent release, The Vigil (ep, June 2011)
Casey Stratton's official site
Casey Stratton's MySpace page
Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos
Own, some co-written
Definitely an ectophilic male artist. sort of a male Sarah McLachlan with a voice that is often mistaken as female.
I picked up DIVIDE and The Crossing from CDBaby after being a fan of his major release Standing at the Edge for a while. Really a solid songwriter and good pianist—a couple of songs veer to being a bit too emotionally over the top, but overall both are fine releases. Many may be thrown by his almost feminine voice, but if you can get past that, they're great, very ecto-friendly voices. (email@example.com)
casey stratton was a good tip. he seems very talented. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What an amazing gift for melody. I love Standing at the Edge and everything I've heard since then. (email@example.com)
Comments about live performance:
So Marc and I went to see Casey Stratton at Jammin' Java last night. He seems to be about half-way through a small tour right now. He puts on a fabulous show and our biggest complaint was that he was the first of three acts (though still played a respectable 50 minutes!). Much of the crowd was clearly there to see him, and the second act seemed a bit put off that when he took the stage most of the (small) audience was still at the back of the venue, swarming around Casey. Heh.
He played a couple of songs off the oft-mentioned-on-ecto Standing at the Edge and the recent release DIVIDE, as well as some older stuff and a folk song from an upcoming release. I thought the live performances of the material from DIVIDE was far stronger live, with just his own keyboard accompaniment. His voice is incredibly powerful live, and he has an engaging and amusing stage presence (though Marc and I were both a bit (pleasantly) surprised at what we individually perceived as a strong queeniness; we independently reached a comparison to Rufus Wainwright).
Best moment was when he played "Harvest" from Standing at the Edge and I started thinking, toward the end, "Gee, with just a straight piano arrangement, this sounds surprisingly derivative of Little Earthquakes-era Tori." At which point he completed a segue into "Tear in Your Hand." Afterward, he said, "I have no idea why I did that; I've never done it before. I was just thinking 'Gee, this sounds like Tori. Hmmm, yup, it works' and went right into it'" (4/06, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Recommended first album:
Standing at the Edge
- Driving to the Moon EP (1995)
- The Giver and the Grave Digger (December 1996)
- Lily Sleeps (August 1997)
- Whirlwind Medusa (September 1998)
- Selections from "First Frost, Then Open" (seasonal, December 2001)
- Standing at the Edge (2004)
- Winter Fields (seasonal, December 2004)
- The Red Dust EP (April 2005)
- A Thousand Faces EP (April 2005)
- DIVIDE (2005)
- A+X=B-Sides: DIVIDE B-Sides 1 (November 2005)
- Lily Sleeps B-Sides: Volume One (May 2006)
- Lily Sleeps B-Sides: Volume Two (May 2006)
- Painting the Trees: DIVIDE B-sides Disc 2 (October 2006)
- Live in Grand Rapids 10.25.06 (2006)
- The Crossing (2007)
- The Winter Children (October 2007)
- Icicles (seasonal, December 2007)
- The Darkest World EP (February 2008)
- Orbit (2008)
- Signs of Life (2008)
- Messages Sending (digital release, 2009)
- Memories and Photographs (2009)
- Podcast Music: Volume Three (September 2009)
- Adding the Remainder: DIVIDE B-Sides Disc 3 (October 2009)
- More Memories and Photographs: The B-Sides (October 2009)
- Altered States—Remixes Volume One (October 2009)
- Boy in Blue: Interlochen Songs 1993-1994 (October 2009)
- A Winter Moon (seasonal, 2009)
- Artifacts: Memories and Photographs B-Sides Volume Two (January 2010)
- Hindsight—Demos 2007-2008 (compilation, April 2010)
- Hostages (compilation, April 2010)
- Live at the Wealthy Theatre May 20, 2010 (live, May 2010)
- The Best of Casey Stratton—The 90s (compilation, June 2010)
- The Best of Casey Stratton—The 2000s (compilation, June 2010)
- Independence: An EP (July 2010)
- Myth & Stars (2 parts, September 2010)
- Live at Wealthy Theatre November 12, 2010 (live, November 2010)
- Creating Myth & Stars: Demos Etc (December 2010)
- Live in New York January 11, 2011 (January 2011)
- Hear the City (ep, February 2011)
- The Crossing: B-sides (February 2011)
- Castaways: Volume One (March 2011)
- Past the Rain (The New York Sessions) (April 2011)
- Piano/Vocals: March 2003 (May 2011)
- The Vigil (ep, June 2011)
Casey Stratton—vocals, guitar, piano, Wurlitzer piano, harpsichord, keyboards, loops
Tim Pierce—acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin, ukulele
Brian MacLeod—drums, percussion, programming
Abe Laboriel Jr.
Great over-produced pop album. Sort of another guilty pleasure, but my ears just couldn't get enough—reminds me in feeling of Sarah McLachlan, but found this album much more interesting than Afterglow. (email@example.com)
My initial stab at an Amazon review of Standing at the Edge, after a half-dozen listens or so...
Not all the way there yet, but plenty of potential
Well, let's get this much out of the way immediately: while I believe in considering every singer-songwriter on his or her own terms, the Sarah and Tori comparisons are indeed inevitable. Casey's general approach to songwriting and his voice are Sarah-esque; his classically influenced piano stylings and many of his vocal harmonies scream Tori. The bad news is that this debut isn't exactly the earth-shattering debut that Tori's was. The good news is that it's easily better than Sarah's was, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he were to arrive at her level of acclaim once he gets a few more albums under his belt.
Make no mistake: Standing at the Edge is very, very pretty, and that's never something to be taken lightly. The main problems I have with it are that it's too laid-back and too self-similar. While pretty much any of the tracks here could fit in just fine on adult contemporary radio, only a few strike me as more likely to grab your ear and/or throat than whatever they decided to play on either side.
Some have suggested that this album is overproduced. That's one criticism with which I don't necessarily agree. In fact, three of my favorite tracks—"House of Jupiter," "Blood," and "Cellophane"—are all given some extra edginess by the use of nifty electronic effects that probably weren't in the original demos. What might be even better, if it's not heresy to suggest, would to bring in an electric guitar once in a while, and let it show some bite. (With the incisors at least, if perhaps not the canines.) Going back to the Sarah analogy: if you can't yet pull off a "Fear"—and most artists can't—you can still manage a "Plenty," which was plenty good because it knew how to augment the tension in the lyrics with the tension in the instrumentation.
But then, of course, there's Casey's "Bloom," which uses nothing but strings and a deceptively simple lyrical theme—"I don't want to bloom/breathe/be/sleep/laugh/die/love without you"—to arrive at one of the most haunting, heartbreaking, gorgeous things I've heard in quite some time. So it's not as though minimalism doesn't work for this indisputably talented man.
I guess I just hope to see him have a little more fun. While a good half of this album strikes me as better pretty background music than something with which to seriously engage oneself, the seeds have clearly been planted. Definitely someone to watch. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sounds like a slightly mellower Standing at the Edge. (email@example.com)
The music is pretty much more of the same, so if you liked DIVIDE, you'll probably like this. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Casey Stratton's album is one that has found continuous play this year. No great departure from his previous works, but a solid effort nonetheless. (email@example.com)
More of the same, so if you liked the last couple....) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
2010—Sleeping Pill Music
a double album of songs inspired by Greek myths from one of the most prolific indie songwriters around (email@example.com)
2011—Sleeping Pill Music—885767740624
Hear the City is another great EP release that really captures the sounds/feelings of being in New York City in winter. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
2011—Sleeping Pill Music—885767740440
The Vigil is a beautiful EP—orchestrated in the same way as my favorite release of his—Messages Sending. It's about being a caretaker of a loved one who's dying—in this case the inspiration was Casey's cat of 12 years going through renal failure and more, but the feelings/emotions on the album go well beyond that. (email@example.com)
"House of Jupiter," remixed by Junior Vasquez, appears on In the Mix: Rare and Hard to Find Remixes (2006).
A DVD, Live at the Wealthy Theatre, was released in 2010.
Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.
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