Bouncing out of the silence, a divine but low-key acoustic guitar shimmers in the opening salvo of “He Was Summer,” the title track of Casey Ahern’s debut EP and sophomore release (following up her acclaimed single “And Me,” released in 2018). Ahern rides a sly harmony like a bucking bronco as we approach the chorus, driving her soft vocal into our hearts with minimal resistance. She floods our minds with friendly imagery of hot summer nights and love affairs that are born thereof, and even though the song doesn’t run over four minutes in length, the little time that we do spend hypnotized in its staggering gaze is enough to transport us to different place and time. It turns out Casey Ahern is only getting started, as we learn in the first few glistening bars of “Like I Do.”
“Like I Do” starts up with a reverberating piano that seems to cry out into the night for someone to understand its pain. Ahern colors the black and white rigidity of the rhythm with her trademark timbre, smoothly skipping from verse to verse with a reticence that is both endearing and humble. The structure of the song is almost formless at first, but as we get deeper into the track we see that it’s Ahern’s voice that is moving the gears, and not the silky instrumental harmonies behind her. Beneath the layers of melody, there exists only her words and the gentle way in which she delivers them to us. Her style of attack is conservative, but she isn’t stingy in her sway at all, making the song feel less like a robotic pop single and more like a softly whispered confession.
Menacing exoticism kindles the flame that soon explodes into fireworks in “Indio,” He Was Summer’s most reverent and swaggering song. Built like a ballad but containing a lot more rock n’ roll feistiness than any other track on the record, “Indio” embodies the raw Californian country profile that Casey Ahern proudly, and naturally, possesses. There’s not a stich of inauthenticity or artificiality to be found in this track (or really any part of He Was Summer), and while I truly enjoyed everything that I heard in this EP, this song in particular stood out to me as a perfect addition to any country-pop playlist.
Casey Ahern’s debut extended play comes to an emotionally-charged close with “Take Me by the Hand,” and while the ballad isn’t the most sonically cerebral offering on the record, it’s certainly the most haunting thanks to its chill-inducing vocal track. He Was Summer is everything that a devout country fan like myself looks for in an intelligent pop crossover record, minus the frail polish that often serves as a smokescreen to attract non-Nashville disciples. She’s new to us, but you can tell than Ahern has spent the majority of her life refining this wide-ranging skillset that has brought her to the attention of critics everywhere (including myself). If this extended play didn’t turn out to symbolize the beginning of a long and successful career in music, I would be legitimately surprised on all fronts.
Donate to IndiePulse Music Magazine’s Academic and Music Education Scholarship Program HeartBeat4Kids
IndiePulse Music Magazine creates Scholarships to help Youth In Need of assistance to complete their educational goals and stay in school.