“Open Eyes,” the intensely catchy first single off his fifth album Lessons and Blessings (out June 21), strays from Cas Haley’s usual upbeat mode, and he knows it. A melancholy vibe is “usually not my M.O.,” laughs the Texas singer-songwriter-guitarist, and the many fans of his sunny reggae-influenced music are sure to agree. The song was written by Cas and his wife on a trip to the Dr office. It started as a joke and by the time they arrived at the appt they were in tears.
When this particular song was conceived, life had interrupted Cas’s rhythm in a big way. With four albums under his belt and thousands of shows behind him, Cas was dividing his time between touring and spending time with his wife and kids on his Texas farm. He’d grown up immersed in ska/punk/skateboard culture and the classic reggae-pop of bands like UB40 and Sublime. He’d long since absorbed the hard-knock lessons of his dramatic runner-up finish on an early season of America’s Got Talent.
He’d worked with indie reggae label Easy Star Records, made other fruitful collaborations, and shared stages with the likes of UB40, Nahko and Medicine for the People, and Trevor Hall. All along, he’d gone his own independent way, building an enviable career on the road and in the studio.
Of course, there were ups and downs along the way. A freak fall while skiing at a festival in the Midwest left him unable to sing for the better part of a year. But he’d always bounced back.