In this life, music might be the closest thing we have to real magic…
Conjured by the interplay of instruments and the energies of musicians, it seemingly materializes out of thin air, captivates, and takes up residence. Casey Abrams cooks up that kind of magic on his second full-length and first release for Chesky Records—the aptly titled, Put A Spell On You. Collating together seven covers and six originals, he enchants, entrances, and engages throughout all thirteen tracks.
“I wanted to put a spell on the audience with the new record,” he affirms. “I’m mixing a lot of covers that fans have heard live with originals that they’ve never heard before. It’s been fun to write songs about the new and cover things that are old. No matter what though, everything should put you in that kind of wonderful trance.”
Spellbinding performance has become something of a tradition for the critically acclaimed singer and multi-instrumentalist. After a head-turning stint on the tenth season of American Idol, his 2012 self-titled debut garnered praise from The Hollywood Reporter, Bass Musician Magazine, She Knows, and many more. Worldwide touring followed as well as numerous collaborations alongside “musical soulmate” Haley Reinhart, including the holiday hit cover of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and a rollicking take on “Hit The Road Jack.”
2016 saw Casey successfully complete a PledgeMusic campaign for the independent release of his EP, Tales from the Gingerbread House. In 2017, he re-teamed with Reinhart for two fan favorite songs on her third offering What’s That Sound? Regularly averaging over 200K monthly listeners on Spotify, he spent the year touring internationally as part of the renowned collective Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox between launching his own nine-piece “funk orchestra” via select FunkHaus gigs at venues like Hotel Cafe.
In the midst of this whirlwind, he retreated to a decommissioned church in Brooklyn to track Put A Spell On You. During a two-day marathon session, he was joined by the members of his trio—Jacob Scesney [saxophone, cajón] and Taylor Tesler [guitar, vocals]—David Chesky in the producer’s chair, and a “mannequin microphone.”
“The church was amazing,” he smiles. “There was a natural reverb that you can’t get digitally. We recorded using this mannequin with microphones in it. You’re singing to this thing like an audience member and getting real stereoscopic sound. There’s a difference here. The first album was super clean. As time progressed, my sound has gotten more live and dirty. It’s more like you’re sitting in my living room now. It’s very spontaneous and rugged. That’s the beauty of this.”
Casey introduced the album with the cyborg waltz of “Robot Lovers” in late 2017 before kicking off 2018 with the single “Let’s Make Out.” A brazen plea for lip-locking punctuated by lyrics about “Star Wars figurines”, a simmering groove, and light bounce, it illuminates the spark at the heart of the new tunes.
“I tried to write a song about a loser who wants to make out with a chick, because he never gets to,” he laughs. “It’s got a little bit of comedy vibe, but real life too!”
In the studio, the live combo of his signature upright bass, horns, guitar, and cajón add a new dimension to familiar staples a la “Meet The Flintstones,” “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” and, of course, the title cut “I Put A Spell On You.”
“Recording the covers brings things full circle for me,” he explains. “So many fans got to know me because of American Idol where that was what I did. It’s cool to give them a bit of that. At the same time, I’ve grown so much.”
Elsewhere, he picks up the 12-string guitar for the lunar love letter “Moon Song,” while another original “High Drunk Love You” proves instantaneously infectious and intoxicating. “It’s a very common subject,” he elaborates. “When I fall in love, I feel like I’m drunk. It’s that initial feeling. You ask, ‘Is right wrong? Is wrong right? Should I be loving you?’ Everybody goes through it.”
In the end, the most magical thing about Casey’s music is how intimate it always remains.
“When you hear this album, I hope you feel like you were hanging out with me for the whole day at a jam session,” he leaves off. “With any luck, you’ll want to grab a beer with me after!”