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Casey Stratton - Standing At the Edge
by Tim Byrnes
Casey Stratton - Standing At the Edge
Label: Odyssey/Sony Classical
For Reasons Unexplained
The House of Jupiter
The Dead Sea
Past The Rain
Violet Room
Listen to samples and Purchase this CD online


“Standing At the Edge”, the debut CD from Casey Stratton is a neatly packaged and somewhat overproduced return to the days of the sensitive singer/songwriter, say, the mid 70's heydays of James Taylor and Carly Simon. Stratton, out of L.A by way of Michigan is a Classically trained pianist who knows his way around a twisted pop melody ala Tori Amos or Sarah McLachlan. The CD was produced to the nth degree by Patrick Leonard, who has done the same for the likes of Elton John and Jewel. This is clearly not a record to rock the house down with, or even break a lease with, but if you want to impress that 27 year old bank teller who acts a little bit past her raisin' then, boy have I got a CD for you.

This is real ‘quiet storm' stuff, pillows of strings and cottony, massed backing vocals conspire to drain any weight that Stratton's lyrics might have. The opener "For Reasons Unexplained' has a haunting quality to it, but I can't tell who's being haunted, or why. Stratton's voice soars and swoops, very McLachlanly, against a black velvet back drape of sound, glasslike violins and 90 foot musicboxes, all in the service of pretty. 

While there's nothing intrinsically wrong with pretty, or pretty for the sake of pretty, some of us may want more. Stratton is a fine singer and musician, he writes songs that sound great, but I wonder how these tunes would sound were they performed by Casey Stratton, alone, at a piano. I wonder the same about Sarah McLachlan.

I'm not trying to dog Mr. Stratton, really I'm not (well, maybe just a little), I know that million of people live and breathe for this type of musical wall paper, it's just that every time I was ready to write this CD off there'd be a little twist in the arrangement, a high note held just long enough, a space in the production where I could hear a living, breathing, bleeding artist! A voice beyond technique and polish. For seconds at a time I felt like I was getting a glimpse at the true heart behind the handsome face and corporate backing.

I heard parts of a CD I would dearly like to hear the rest of. But this “Standing At the Edge” is not it. Hey Casey, maybe you ought to give John Cale a call; I bet he could make us both happy.

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