Karlie Loland-Ringer

Cassie Jean and the Fireflies started as power couple Cassie Jean Barbaresi and Rich Odato decided to make good use of the lockdown and write their own songs at their home studio. As things started to get bigger, they were joined by Grammy-winning producer/engineer Bud Snyder who also produced the record and the trio started shaping “Heart Over Head” and choosing suitable players for recording. The recording process took place at the storied Baysound Studios in Sarasota with the help of added session and symphony orchestra bassist John Miller, drummer Sammy “Barefoot” Warren while it was mixed by Bob Frank. Co-produced follow up sessions by Snyder and Grammy winner Phil Wolfe added Hall-of-Famer Joe Spivey on fiddle and mandolin, Phil Wolfe himself on Hammond B3 organ, percussion by Garrett Dawson, and backing vocals by Taylor Opie and Vincent Colaiocco.

“Heart Over Head” welcomes you with loads of energy and beautiful melodies on “Mrs. Mavis”. Cassie’s powerful lovely voice with its fluid melody and backing harmonies supported by the violin’s melody mixed with upbeat percussions and mandolin all created a perfect opener. As upbeat and intense “Mrs. Mavis” was, things get mellow on the title track “Heart Over Head”. It has a smooth flow and soothing violins and acoustic guitar; it peacefully progresses into something slightly upbeat adding faster percussions before they decide to slow things down taking us to the peaceful outro all topped by the dominant vocal melody. Replacing violins in the cheerful breeze of joy “Tomorrow” with more guitars, Cassie Jean and the Fireflies started pushing the record’s dynamics again setting the mood for what’s next. “Sun Don’t Rise (Just to Hear You Crow)” unleashes Rich Odato’s guitar abilities with its bluesy sound. Odato lays his enjoyable guitar licks and solos everywhere in amazing harmony with the organ as they both dominate the song while Cassie shakes things around with a new rocking vocal delivery making it one of my favs.  They brought back their folk roots in “Turn the Page” and “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Bother Me”. Both have lovely grooves with some cool upright bass and energetic violins matching the cheerful lyrics and vocals channeling a lot of positive vibes to the listener. “All My Life” comes next at the perfect spot to offer something new in the “Heart Over Head” mix. The slow sweet love ballad mixed all their good traits, nice guitars, lovely violins, groovy percussions and bass, and for sure, the sweet sound of Carrie proving their musicianship and diverse songwriting abilities. They continue flexing their diverse songwriting talents with “The Remedy” which is basically a pure blues rock tune with maybe their best guitar work on the record. The rocking vibes are everywhere from the guitar riffs and solos to the playful vocal melody, especially at that super catchy chorus, I had this one on repeat for a while!

 “Long Way Round” is another return to their folk base but with a twist with an exceptional beat and mellow relaxing slide guitar. The guitar/organ conversation returns in the cheerful tune “I’ve Got You” with strong percussion and bass presence. “What Are We Waiting For” and “Hold on Tight, We are Going for a Ride” are the record’s last folky ride before “Quick Trip to Hell” with its Alanis Morrissette meets Lynard Skynard vibes and nice guitars and drums lines. The record ends on a high note with “Grammy’s Chicken Soup”, it has a non-stopping groove that’ll keep you moving unintentionally till the end with its live vibes, enjoyable bass, and the tense, filled with chemistry conversation between guitar and vocal melodies.

“Heart Over Head” is well crafted, well written, and produced record. It shows that Cassie Jean and the Fireflies are seasoned musicians who are able to offer diverse sounds in harmony within the same record while maintaining their unique touch and influences. It is an enjoyable ride that left me waiting for their next release. Cheers!