24-year-old singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and American Idol finalist Casey Abrams, proves he is here to stay with his self-titled debut album on Concord Records.
Casey, co-wrote sang played bass, acoustic guitar, drums, Wurlitzer and even recorder. Casey Abrams opens with the finger-snapping cool of “Simple Life,” affirming there’s a genuine artist at work here. “Ghosts” and “Get Out,” prove Casey’s capability as a contemporary songwriter, “Wore Out My Soul” shows his R&B balladeer chops and he makes musical mini-movies on both “Great Bright Morning” and “Midnight Girl.”
“Blame It On Me” features Casey’s soulful bass line and vocal agility. Romantic desire is made sexy on “A Boy Can Dream,” and he delivers a vocal tour de force on “Dry Spell.” To cap the disc, Abrams pays homage to Ray Charles on “Hit The Road Jack” performed as a slinky duet with fellow Idol contestant Haley Reinhart (produced by Steve Jordan).
Casey Abrams’ story is that of a born natural, but it’s also the story of a person who studied diligently and worked extremely hard, striving toward his dream of a life in music. He was born in Austin, Texas to professionally accomplished, extraordinarily creative parents. Casey’s mother, Pamela Pierce, a screenwriter and teacher, also plays piano and sings. His father, Ira Abrams currently teaches at Idyllwild Arts Academy, the distinguished private school in the mountains above Palm Springs, California that proved instrumental in shaping Casey’s musical life. The walls of Casey’s childhood home resonated with, “the music of the 1950s and ‘60s,” he states. Even then, he was “hearing those blues riffs and little things that make a song what it is.”
At ten years old, Casey moved to Idyllwild and attended the Idyllwild Summer Arts program prior to enrolling in the academy. By sixth grade he began playing the electric bass guitar and in time gained proficiency on guitar, upright bass, cello, drums, even the sitar. In middle school he started recording orchestral arrangements of his own voice on his karaoke machine. “It was a dream,” he says of the school that cultivates students from diverse backgrounds in music, theatre, dance, visual art, creative writing, moving pictures and interdisciplinary arts. His jazz and upright bass instructor, Marshall Hawkins, played with Miles Davis and Roberta Flack. “He changed my life,” says Casey. “I’m a musician now thanks to Marshall.”
The incredible exposure to the entire range of timeless popular music had an intense influence on Casey’s development. He waxes rhapsodically about jazz icons like Oscar Peterson and Thelonious Monk and “the one song that really changed me: Cannonball Adderley’s version of ‘Autumn Leaves,’ Miles plays on it.” That’s just a small part of his inspiration. He lists James Taylor, Freddie Mercury, AC/DC and even Jack Black as major influences.
Abrams tried out for American Idol in Austin. “I had a heart attack when they chose me,” Casey recalls. “I was like: this is the ticket. As soon as I got that foot in the door I knew I could make it. I was so happy.”
Not too long afterwards, Abrams found himself in London recording his debut album. “It was the best experience, so fun,” he enthuses of being in London, working with producer Martin Terefe, whose credits include Jason Mraz, Train (the hit “Soul Sister”), Mary J Blige, KT Tunstall, a-ha, James Morrison, Martha Wainwright, Cat Stevens, Jamie Cullum and others. “I walked to work every morning to Kensaltown Studios, an amazing workshop filled with musicians, writers and producers. I buzzed the big green door, went up three flights of stairs into the room with the big green couches and just chilled. It didn’t feel like I was making an album, just having a good time, hanging out and making and writing music with friends. London’s just such a creative place.”
Casey Abrams reflects the organic creativity he found with his collaborators and the ensuing natural ease that was a hallmark of making it. Even though his prodigious artistic gifts and widescreen creative vision augur many great things in the future, his ambition at heart remains very simple. “I want to make music that people love.” And so he has on his first album, and will continue to do for some time to come.