If you’ve been looking for especially stylish country grooves with a fresh, pop/rock edge, Casey Ahern might just have exactly what you’ve been yearning for in her new extended play He Was Summer, which is out now everywhere that indie music is streamed and sold. Ahern brandishes a versatile vocal as her weapon of choice in four provocatively produced songs that exploit her brooding aesthetic for all it’s worth, yielding some truly evocative results in the process. Whether it be the sparkling melodies that bind the title track, the melancholic groove of “Take Me by the Hand” or “Like I Do,” or the cut-loose free spirited rock of “Indio,” there’s something for even the most hardened of hearts to fall in love with in this surprisingly sprawling EP.
For being a relatively new face on the international scene, Ahern is extraordinarily adept at not only crafting smart lyrics to accompany her spacious rhythms, but also finding a smooth, effervescent way to deliver them unto us free of pop’s annoying plasticity. “Indio” is perhaps the best example of her organic prowess at it’s most unrestrained; she confidently struts through bands of richly textured guitar and pleasant, stoic drumming, imparting to us the full scope of her emotion without coming off as egocentric or overindulgent. The title track is another fine demonstration of her swagger, but to be fair, you’d be hard pressed to find a single moment of hesitance in the whole of He Was Summer and the four brilliantly executed tracks that it boasts.
One of the best qualities of this EP is its evenhanded production. In songs like “Take Me by the Hand” and “Like I Do,” Ahern is able to balance really effective hooks with acrylic textures in the instrumentation, creating an atmospheric feeling that guides her poetry along exquisitely. For this reason alone, I’m deeply curious to see what sort of music she turns out in the future. It’s uncommon, to say the least, to find a country/pop artist who pays as much attention to the subtleties of their music as they do the cosmetic value of their presentation, and all the rarer to find such a conviction in a performer as relatively untested as Ahern is. If she’s packing this kind of a punch aesthetically now, who knows how far she could go in a follow-up.
I would expect amazing things out of Casey Ahern in the future, who shows real talent and skill beyond her years in this stunning extended play. He Was Summer follows up the release of her debut single “And Me,” and as far as I’m concerned, it contains much more substance than most of the LPs that we’ve seen so far in the early New Year. You don’t have to be the biggest fan of country or pop music to appreciate the wonderfully tender vocals and ripping tonality that these four songs have to offer, but for those of us who have been craving a new contender to put Nashville in its proper place once again, a record like this serves as a big statement to start 2019 off with.