Cassie Urbany combines country, blues, and rock n’ roll to create a unique sound and relatable songs with depth, attitude, and optimism. Her songs are the collaborative work of a mother-daughter songwriting team and performed by Cassie at songwriter showcases, coffee houses and clubs in the Washington D.C. area.
Cassie began writing melodies in high school, but transformed her guitar playing into songwriting after a college breakup. Cassie wrote her first two songs in 2013, then returned home to visit her mother in New England, who had also experienced a recent breakup. The two began co-writing during the visit, and have been writing together ever since, cowriting 11 of the tracks featured on Cassie’s album “Carousel”, scheduled for release on Feb. 7, 2020.
“We have similar minds, so we don’t have to explain anything to each other,” Cassie said. “She’s like a brunette me.”
“So true,” said her mother, Deborah Straszheim. “It helps that we’re practically clones.” The two write by sending melodies and lyrics back and forth via text message, sometimes singing to each other over the phone. Cassie lives in Washington, D.C., while her mother, a former newspaper reporter for 25 years, lives in Connecticut.
“I love how my love of music and my mom’s love of words have combined into relatable songs,” said Cassie.
“It’s such a great bonding experience,” said her mother.
First, the two will discuss an idea for song. Then, Cassie will send one or more melodies to her mother, who will reply with lyrics. Despite the general arrangement, both offer thoughts about melody and lyrics, sometimes singing them differently to one another or adding words, making the songs true collaborations. Both give each other veto power over melodies and lyrics they don’t like.
“I always know she’ll be honest with me and tell me if something doesn’t sound right, and vice versa,” said Cassie.
“Carousel” includes melodies with background piano, harmonica, mandolin and saxophone, defying traditional arrangements that would place the music in a particular genre. “I think that’s what gives the songs variety,” said Cassie. “We just write. Then we figure out how to bring out the tone and mood of the song.”
“Carousel” follows Cassie’s first two EPs, “She Can Have Him,” released in 2014, and “Red Flag” released in 2016. The songwriting duo is currently working on new material for a second album.