Even the strongest of couples have fallen victim to "hanger" once or twice, and Cassadee Pope and her boyfriend and fellow artist, Sam Palladio (Nashville's Gunnar Scott) are no exception. It's not that the pair don't work together -- they've collaborated with Striking Matches, for example -- but it helps to have structure.

"We tried writing together just the two of us, but we kind of got stuck on an idea, and it wasn't completely working. And then we both got hungry," Pope tells The Boot. "So we were like, 'Let's go to [East Nashville Mexican restaurant] Rosepepper and get margaritas' -- and then we never finished the song."

The couple works better with another co-writer in the room, Pope admits, and when they're following a more rigid working schedule. "A third or fourth brain in the room, I think it's good for a couple. At least, it is for us," she continues. "It's almost like we need to work on normal Nashville writing hours, where you go to a session at 11AM and you're done by 4. Last time, we started at night, and it was just like, 'I'm hungry. Let's go eat.'"

Even so, Pope loves bringing the people she cares about into her music. "I would love to have Sam on my next project. So yeah, that might happen," she shares. The singer has collaborated with a number of her artist friends, including Dan + Shay's Shay Mooney, Chris Young, Lindsay Ell, RaeLynn and Lauren Alaina.

"I love having my friends be a part of things," Pope continues. "I would love to have more of them, have more features, give them more moments, on my next project."

Speaking of that next project, the singer says she's working on a follow-up to 2018's Stages, although she clarifies that she's still in the early days of the album-making process. In 2019, Pope signed a new publishing deal with BMG, which offered her a change of scenery as she began the writing process for the new record.

"They're setting me up in sessions that I haven't been in before. And I've made it very clear, that I want to go in with people that I know, but I also want to go in with people that I haven't worked with before. But maybe put someone I know in there, too, so it's a good bridge," Pope relates. "Sometimes when you write with somebody new, it's a little daunting. You're like, 'Oh my gosh, I've never even met these people, let alone spilled my guts [to them].'"

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Pope's previous record, Stages, chronicles a turbulent time in her life, one that -- at times -- brought more downs than ups. The result is a cathartic, searing record, intense in its authenticity, and so career-defining that it barely occurred to Pope that there would ever be a next album. Now, though she admits that the prospect of following up such a personal prospect was a little intimidating at first, Pope says she's excited about where her next batch of material is headed.

"I've only been writing for whatever this new project is for a few months, so I don't have a huge catalog," she cautions. "But what I do have is a lot about my relationship and where I am mentally. Those are both good things.

"The new songs are way more happy," she goes on to say. "And there's also kind of a groovy sexiness to the songs right now. They're all in demo phases, so they're going to change production-wise, but I think that's a pretty safe thing to say as far as the direction."

Even if Pope and Palladio don't wind up collaborating musically on her new record, they've still got a very important collaboration going on: being co-owners to their two dogs, Cuppy (Pope's French bulldog) and River (Palladio's whippet). Both of the humans involved in the relationship agree that their dogs are important -- their first date even took place at a dog park -- and Pope says that she and Palladio would have broken up if their dogs hadn't gotten along.

"Oh, it would have been [a dealbreaker]. It totally would have been," she says, adding that early on, the dogs' attitudes toward each other had her a little bit nervous. "Cuppy and River didn't know when to stop playing when Sam and I first got together, and it was a little bit of an aggressive play situation. Eventually we trained them to know, 'Okay, this is the limit. As soon as you start screaming at each other, literally screaming, then it's done.' But they figured out their rhythm. They're good pups."

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