There are a lot of indie artists that struggle beyond their debut EP, but Casey Ahern definitely is not one of them. Ahern dropped her first record back in 2018, titled He Was Summer after its most rousing track, and in the two years that have gone by since then, she’s done nothing but get better at her songcraft. Her capabilities as a composer and as a crooner are on full display for our enjoyment in the new single “Sunday Driver,” which is getting high marks from critics in both pop and country circles this late February.
The lyrics in “Sunday Driver” aren’t as enigmatic as those in some of the cornerstone tracks of He Was Summer, or Ahern’s 2019 single “Just a Dance,” but I think she wears the straight-up attitude she’s adopted here wonderfully just the same. She doesn’t have to prop her verses up against some over the top backdrop, nor is she using a lot of multi-interpretive riddles as a means of getting some basic, otherwise cut and dry narrative across to her target audience. Instead of indulging in the same kind of surrealist components that her mainstream brethren might have on this occasion, she’s keeping it simple and sounding like a star as a result.
There’s a little more varnish on the string parts in this song than was actually necessary, but even that withstanding, I don’t think that the guitar element in “Sunday Driver” was ever meant to be the object of our affections; after all, there aren’t many instruments that could deprive Ahern’s lead vocal of that position. Her voice is a show-stealing agent of evocativeness, and in a single like this one, we get to experience it as it was always meant to be heard – without constraint, creative nor commercial.
I really like the tempo of “Sunday Driver,” and when I took some time to go back and listen to the other songs in Casey Ahern’s discography, I found that she tends to do a lot better with plodding rhythms than she does with urgent beats. Don’t get me wrong – she’s got plenty of fire in her vocal execution, but in ballads and slower-swinging tunes like this latest release, she unveils a softer side to her palate that you just can’t help but get swept away by. I dig the diversity of her profile, and it’s never been as well-featured as it is here.
Not many artists can brag about being as adept at pleasing two very distinct audiences at once as Casey Ahern is, and with the release of “Sunday Driver,” she proves that she isn’t going anywhere but up the indie ladder from here forward. Ahern makes an aesthetical quantum leap in this most recent studio work, and I think you would be hard-pressed to hear another crossover country-pop song quite like it before the change of the seasons. She’s earned everything she’s got so far, and if her past has taught us anything about her future, she won’t be slowing down anytime soon.