After a year of both professional and personal breakups, Cassadee Pope is back.
The season 3 winner of The Voice released her single “Take You Home” in March — which she credits for putting her in a more “hopeful space” after leaving her record label and ending a long-term relationship in 2017 — and PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at the new music video.
“It was fun to do music through that time because that’s therapy for me,” Pope, 28, tells PEOPLE. “It’s something I lean on in the good and bad times.”
This is Pope’s first release since her 2016 EP, Summer, and the first since making the decision to leave her record label, Big Machine.
“I got to a point where I felt like everybody saw me in a specific way, when I had changed so much over the years,” she explains. “I inherited my whole team from The Voice, from management to the label to the lawyers — everything. They saw me come off of a show where I wasn’t sure really where to go.”
“Then, I got to the point where I was like, ‘You know what? I really know who I am, I don’t think they get it and that’s okay, but I think we’re both at a crossroads where we don’t really understand each other,'” she continues. “When I felt creatively stunted, that’s when I knew that it was time to leave. I hadn’t been an independent artist in a really long time so I just felt this massive urge to just be free of that and to do things myself and it’s been such an awesome experience.”
Pope first came across “Take You Home” last year after a friend sent it to her thinking it’d fit her vibe. “Immediately, I fell in love with it,” she says.
Among the reasons Pope was drawn to the song was because her best friend, Emily Weisband, wrote it and sang on the demo. She also thought it was interesting that it was originally written from a male’s perspective.
“I always gravitate towards those lyrics because I feel like sometimes, as women, we feel like we can’t say certain things or show those bold sides to our personalities,” she says. “It’s not all about being mad at a guy for breaking your heart. It’s about other things like being bold enough to tell a guy, ‘Hey, I’m into you. I would love to bring you to my hometown and you can see where I’m from.’ So that drew me to it as well.”
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When it came to the music video, which also features her tour bandmates, Pope says she wanted to “let the song speak for itself.”
“I wanted the video to be a great backbone to it and make it come to life, but I didn’t want it to be so on the nose to where I was acting out the music video exactly what I was singing,” she says. “I love the inconspicuous vibe of where exactly am I driving in the taxi? I like that it’s open to interpretation and everybody can put their own spin on it.”
Though Pope looks gracious as she stares out of a rain-drenched taxi window in the video, she says that wasn’t exactly the case behind the scenes.
“The guy that was driving was a taxi cab driver, [and] I’m sure you know how jerky it can be,” she says. “He was flying through red lights and we were like, ‘Hey man, we’re actually not trying to get anywhere. We’re just trying to look good in the car so you don’t have to drive so crazy.’ I hit my head on the window a few times.”
“He came to one of my shows in Miami which is sort of near where I’m from and my grandpa came out,” she says. “The way my family works is everybody is really in Nashville now, so going back to my hometown in West Palm [Beach, Florida] would definitely be different from bringing a boyfriend home 10 years ago because everybody would have still been there.”
“But I definitely am eager to bring him to this little town in Pennsylvania where my mom’s side are all from because we still have my great-grandparents’ house there,” she says. “I grew up with all these people in that town so it’d be fun to take him there. We’ll see! Maybe someday in the future.”
Cassadee Pope and Sam Palladio
This is Pope’s first relationship after ending her engagement to All Time Low drummer Rian Dawson last summer after seven years together. She first met Palladio at an afterparty several years ago, but Pope says she never saw him again until they reconnected in December.
“I didn’t know much about him!” Pope says. “I had seen Nashville here and there, but I wasn’t super tuned into the storyline or anything. It’s been actually really fun to have him catch me up on everything and, of course, I watch it now and I’m definitely a fan.”
Whether we can expect a collaboration from the two in the future, Pope says she’s “not opposed” to it.
“We’ve talked about it and thrown around the idea of writing a song together,” she says. “We’ll jam out sometimes and just sing together randomly. I think he’s such a great singer and super talented. He wrote this great song that his character is going to be performing on one of the last episodes on Nashville. I know that he’s capable of writing a pretty awesome song so I’d love to do that with him.”
Cassadee Pope and Sam Palladio
Five years ago, Pope won her season of The Voice with help from her coach Blake Shelton — whom she still calls “the best” — and now she’s returning to her roots. On Monday night’s episode of the show, Pope will continue to work as a key adviser for coach Kelly Clarkson‘s team during the knockout rounds.
“[Kelly is] such a down to earth, sweet person and I loved seeing the way she interacted with her artists,” Pope says. “She was very nurturing and had such amazing tips to give them — so much so that I was taking notes myself.”
During her season, Pope performed “Catch My Breath” with Clarkson for the finale. After winning, Pope says she ran into Clarkson several times at different awards shows.
“I actually remember at the ACMs — I think it was the second year I had ever been — I was up during commercial break saying hi to people and they were counting down from five to come back, and I wasn’t even near my seat. I was scrambling to get back and then I just feel somebody pull me onto their lap and it was Kelly. She was like, ‘Sorry, I just didn’t want you to be standing up when they came back!’ I was like, ‘That’s fine!’ She’s just always been super nice.”
For Pope, being able to return to the show was a cool full circle moment.
“It was just cool to go back and see these artists actually want advice from me,” she continues. “It made me feel valued in a way because I went through the exact same experience.”