If there was a way to simultaneously sit next to someone else’s love and pain, the closest thing would be Ryan Cassata’s The Witches Made Me Do It. Co-written with Jeni McKenna and produced by Jason Hiller in Los Angeles, the album provides a new sound that audiences haven’t heard from Cassata before. He clearly sheds and bares his soul in a different way than he has with his previous four albums.
The album features eight songs, totaling about 40 minutes. It’s deep. It’s raw. It’s genuine. It’s authentic. It’s real. For example, the title song and fourth track, The Witches Made Me Do It, tells the audience a love story in the time of adversity. The sound is nothing we have heard from Cassata before. There is a clear hip-hop influence backed by piano. It’s a beautiful piece to add to his collection of stories.
The third track, Catcher in the Rye, speaks to audiences as Ryan tells his story of falling in love after a traumatic past filled with bullying, hate crimes, and his lack of feeling safe in his conservative hometown. I have listened to Catcher in the Rye at least 20 times now, and I have finally been able to make it through without tears. It speaks to me, and I guarantee it will speak to others. I have been bullied my whole life, and have recently lost a dear friend as they finally revealed their negative thoughts towards the LGBTQ+ community, a community I am a third-generation member of, and very proud to be.
While Catcher in the Rye speaks of Ryan’s history and experiences being queer, this song can easily be translated to any sort of bullying and/or feeling so hurt and out of place wherever you are in life, both physically and emotionally. It is so visible that each of these songs comes from the heart and soul of both songwriters. Each song is different from the next, but can also be seen as a story, each song a different chapter. The audience will not be lost. They are brought into Ryan’s history, a love story, and are gifted with beautiful storytelling in every song.
Bamboo Plants was the first music video I saw of Ryan Cassata’s. I was introduced to Ryan by my older brother. I had heard a little bit of music, but hadn’t seen any videos. On August 23rd, 2019, the music video came out (just so happened to be my brother’s birthday), and I got to share the video with him.
When I heard that Ryan Cassata was doing an acoustic version, I was excited. Bamboo Plants is already a beautiful story, and audiences got to hear the song months before The Witches Made Me Do It album arrived on streaming platforms. The acoustic version clearly tells the same story as the original, but the way the track is laid comes in sounding more like you’d hear it in a coffee shop, or sitting on a blanket in the grass with your acoustic guitar.
Cassata hosted a contest on his Instagram calling for fans to create artwork for Bamboo Plants. The grand prize was monetary compensation and a hand-picked merch package. Thanks to the kindness of Cassata, every winner walked away with a prize. Each entry was incredible, which made for a hard decision. But in the end, Kai Tarr walked away as the grand prize winner, and his picture is now seen on all streaming platforms.
In addition to an acoustic version of Bamboo Plants, Ryan Cassata presented an acoustic version of Extended Vacation. Extended Vacation immediately follows Bamboo Plants on the album The Witches Made Me Do It. Audiences may have heard the term “yee-freakin’-haw” go along with the song (originally presented in a comment regarding Daughter), as a tasseled cowboy hat-wearing Cassata is on the cover and walks throughout the music video for the original tune. The same somber, relaxed feeling is found in the acoustic version of Extended Vacation, though audiences may have trouble keeping their head from swaying side-to-side to the more prominent harmonica. It’s a nice comparison, and a good combination with the acoustic version of Bamboo Plants.
Listen to The Witches Made Me Do It on Spotify:
Listen to Bamboo Plants – Acoustic on Spotify:
Listen to Extended Vacation – Acoustic on Spotify:
Written By Jordan Taylor Dubin