Cass Clayton Raises Her Voice

Cass Clayton Raises Her Voice

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A powerful soul blues newcomer delivers amazement on her first  full-length album; here’s how...

Cass Clayton burst onto the local music scene here in Colorado and has wowed audiences with her powerful performances and fearless song-writing. Recently she followed up her debut EP Woman In The Way with Cass Clayton Band, her first full-length CD.

I fell in love with the album after just one listen; I used to play blues a lot, and hearing it done well remains a huge treat for me. First-time listeners are always amazed to hear Cass sing—a petite lady with a smoky-sweet voice that sounds like it should be com-ing from someone twice her size. Cass sings, plays slide guitar (really well, I might add!), and cowrote all of the material with songwriter/producer Taylor Scott, who served as her guitarist and bandleader for the album’s tracking sessions. Geoff Gray, a New York transplant who's worked with artists like Richie Furay and Sonny Sharrock and who tracked Gary Clark Jr. at Far And Away, tracked and mixed the album.

To set the stage: this interview took place at Geoff’s studio Far And Away, a converted barn in Boulder that’s a marvel of efficient yet musical use of space.

An entire upper level was built into the rafters, with glass-fronted iso booths that look down on the main room for eye contact. Every single space is convertible into a recording area: there’s an amp iso booth under the stairs, and even the bathroom and “mud room” entryway are built with patch panels and sound- isolating doors.

The main room with its high peaked ceiling is where drums are set up; there’s enough room for a full band there, even with the beautiful Hammond C3 and Leslie in the corner, and there’s no glass between the mix position and the band. Everything is finished in wood—Geoff once told me, “You don’t build pianos or guitars out of fabric and foam. When Tony Bongiovi built the Power Station, it was obvious that he was creating rooms that were musical instruments in their own right. We built Far And Away with that in mind.”

I had a great time chatting with Cass and Geoff about the making of the album, and picked up some thoughts and techniques that are well worth sharing.—MM