Tory Cassis,
Anywhere But Here
(True North Records, 1999)

Toronto singer/songwriter Tory Cassis' debut solo CD is an eclectic mix of musical styles, ranging from blues to pop to folk and beyond. He has a melodic, deep voice, and has written twelve original and insightful songs. He is an accomplished musician -- in addition to vocals, he plays acoustic and electric guitars, trumpet, dobro and percussion. Refusing to limit himself to any one musical style, Cassis makes full use of all his musical instincts and influences. He is young and still, by his own admission, looking for his place. It takes a lot of courage to go through that self-exploration out in the open on a record -- Cassis does it with the confidence gained from years of playing in clubs around his native Toronto and touring with such acts as label mates Moxy Fruvous.

It was sunny outside the first time I listened to this CD, and I was unimpressed. Then it started to rain; suddenly, it made sense.

The highlights on this record include the horn-driven melodrama of "Such a Crime." Cassis has a laconic delivery and intelligent sarcasm drips from each line. "The Same Painful Story" is a breakup song that changes the tempo of the record from uplifting to tender and sad. "You Never Will" is a song about frustration in relationships. Cassis shows insight with lyrics like: "Love is meant to lose like tears are meant to spill / and if you don't believe me now you never will." Soft words and melancholy are key in "The Things I Would Say," another song about a past relationship. This time, he sings about her memory disappearing with a sad honesty.

It will be interesting to see where Cassis goes from here. There are a number of directions he could take with his musical career -- or perhaps he will remain yet another Canadian artist who defies classification.

[ by Rachel Jagt ]

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