Crossover artists have been dominating almost every chart, mainstream and independent, in the last couple of years, and if you’re a fan of this new movement within western pop, you’re probably going to like what Casey Ahern is laying down in her new single “Sunday Driver.” Ahern is one part country singer/songwriter and another part folk-pop songstress, and using every weapon at her disposal, she unleashes a soft-rocking tidal wave of texture and tonality in “Sunday Driver” that isn’t soon to be forgotten. The bottom line? It doesn’t take much more than a cursory listen to understand why she’s been getting the buzz she has.
Ahern’s vocal is so organic that it actually creates a little bit of a contrast with the polished instruments in this mix, and from where I sit, it’s this very contrast that gives her harmonies in this track as much definition as they’ve inarguably got. It might not have worked out as well with a straight acoustic version of “Sunday Driver,” but for the purposes of what she was trying to accomplish here, I think that the structure of this mix (and its quirky components) is about the best route a producer could have gone.
Instrumentally, “Sunday Driver” is a really layered composition, but it’s impressively not as overwhelming as it could have been. The tempered approach to the melodies – both vocal and instrumental – is partially why nothing feels particularly aggressive here, but I can also see where Ahern could play this song live and add a little more oomph to the chorus without giving us a totally reworked version of what we’re hearing in this instance. She’s got a wide-range of skills at her fingertips, and though some critics might see this track as too limiting compared to what she would deliver in-person, I think it’s the perfect teaser.
I would have liked to hear just a bit more volume on the drums, especially towards the conclusion of the track, but I suppose I can understand why they were left in the background to the degree that they were. Casey Ahern definitely isn’t belting out any of her verses in “Sunday Driver,” intentionally, and by accenting her vocal with just a hint of percussive presence actually makes it easier for us to zero-in on the best attributes her voice brings to the table. It’s a complicated way of writing pop music, but hey – who ever said this artist wanted to be known as just a pop singer?
There’s still some room for further development on her end, but right now I think “Sunday Driver,” in an extension of 2019’s “Just a Dance,” is solid proof of Casey Ahern’s authenticity as an up and coming singer/songwriter in the 2020s. Her voice is her greatest quality, and provided she keeps putting as much heart into her vocal work as she has in this most recent release, I’m sure she’s going to find a welcoming audience both at home and abroad. She’s staying on my radar, and after you take in “Sunday Driver,” I think she’ll be on yours as well.