Cassie’s story is something out of a music-industry fairy tale. The nineteen-year-old model’s demo was heard by the right people, landing her a recording deal and distribution through Bad Boy Records, a scorching hot video, and enough Myspace friends to fill a Caribbean island. All this only about a year after moving to New York. So there are plenty of reasons to be suspicious of this overnight sensation. But even if she’s little more than another pretty face bolstered by great production and expensive marketing, the final product is actually pretty good.


    Cassie’s producer and mentor Ryan Leslie seems to be going for a new-Aaliyah vibe. The concept might be sacrilege to some, but Leslie brings all the elements together for the first single, “Me & U,” with its sci-fi bleeps, layered tripped-out vocals and club beats. Most of Cassie follows those lines, with varying degrees of success. The singer has a paper-thin voice that works best when accompanied by delicate productions, such as in the dainty “Just One Nite” and the elegant “Kiss Me.” The hip-hop-lite of “Long Way 2 Go” is a high point thanks to its sassy lyrics and finger-snapping beats.


    Leslie produces each track here, and he’s good at combining crisp beats, electronic effects and more organic sounds like harps and strings. The album is mostly pleasant, but the insipid “Ditto” and the pathetic attempt at pop rock, “What Do You Want,” put a damper on things. At just ten tracks (not including a short interlude), Cassie moves by swiftly, remaining concentrated and short of mistakes.


    Regardless of whether or not it was the intent, Cassie doesn’t even come close to the science-fiction dreamscapes that Aaliyah pioneered. But for a singer who was plucked from obscurity a little more than a year ago, this debut is as good as it gets.



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