A vibrant free spirit who approaches every opportunity and challenge that comes her way fearlessly, Casey Ahern’s life is by design one of perpetual forward motion. The 20-year-old SoCal based singer songwriter chose Where I Run as the title of her latest EP not simply because the theme of quick, energizing movement inhabits most of the five tracks, but to reflect the exciting reality that, in her own words, “I’m a runner.”
At 17, the fast-emerging SoCal based indie singer-songwriter moved on a whim to study for a semester at Berklee College of Music in Boston. She headed back to California for a few months, then hightailed it for a four month stay in Nashville, where she played open mics at the Bluebird Café and Douglas Corner Café as well as co-wrote songs with various Music City musicians. Casey’s multitude of Instagram followers also look forward to her adventures in the sky and the sense of freedom and escape that entails. In early 2019, she earned her pilot’s license and is now a private pilot engaged in instrument training.
Casey, who has been performing consistently with her band since she was 16, defines herself as a contemporary country artist. Yet her stylistically varied songs and intimate yet quirky vocal style tap into an inviting throwback vibe that incorporates sparkling touches of the early 70s Laurel Canyon style – a little Joni Mitchell, a twist of Jackson Browne and the classic Cali country vibe of the Eagles. Where I Run is the highly anticipated follow-up to her 2018 EP He Was Summer, whose track “Indio” has over 81,000 streams on Spotify; the title track has nearly 50,000. The new EP’s lead single “Just a Dance,” is set for release in fall 2019.
Casey returned to her old stomping grounds in Nashville to record at Sound Emporium Studios with a powerhouse ensemble of veteran Music City musicians – guitarists Tim Galloway (Josh Turner, Luke Bryan) and Kris Donegan (Brett Eldredge, Shania Twain), bassist Lee Hendricks (Eric Church), keyboardist David Dorn (Tim McGraw, Kelsea Ballerini), drummer Matt King (Maren Morris, Brothers Osborne) and two time Grammy nominated violinist Eamon McLoughlin (Rodney Crowell, The Band Perry). Where I Run was produced by the veteran production team of Nathan Meckel and Mark Niemiec, collectively known as The Buzz Brothers.
“This was my first time recording in Nashville, and it was an exciting, inspiring experience,” Casey says. “We’re staying in the mainstream country vein while incorporating influences from other genres I love, including pop and folk and blues on the song ‘Heartbreak Radio.’ Nathan and Mark have incredible instincts and ears and immediately knew what they were listening for and what they wanted to hear from me. Before the sessions, I sent them work tapes with just acoustic guitar and vocals, with the chords, lyrics and melody there in raw form. They crafted the songs into tracks beyond anything I could have imagined.”
“Bradley,” the soulful country-pop flavored ballad that kicks off Casey Ahern’s new EP, is unique in that Casey crafted it like a romantic love song about a guy – but, like her trademark song “He Was Summer,” it’s really about a special place in her heart. The heartfelt, reflective power ballad “Didn’t Even Get a Goodbye” is a personal song with a powerful universal theme many people can relate to – those moments where time doesn’t allow us this special moment. The gentle, wistful ballad “Just a Dance” is about a dance with a stranger leading to doubts about a relationship. Where I Run’s final two tracks are the high-spirited up-tempo gem “Sunday Driver” (which reflects fondly on colorful road adventures she shared with her dad growing up) and the sweet, nostalgic “Heartbreak Radio” about her lifelong passion for country music and the way it has “taught me to love, to hurt” and find comfort in its minor chords and often sad lyrics.
Over the past few years, Casey and her band have built a loyal, continuously growing following with rousing performances at L.A. hotspots like The Mint and The Viper Room and the popular SoCal venues The Canyon Club (Agoura Hills), The Arena (Simi Valley) and Borderline Bar & Grill (Thousand Oaks). While her performances now feature exclusively her original material, the set lists once included old school rockers like “Baba O’Riley,” “Listen to the Music” and “Big Yellow Taxi.” This year, she has also performed acoustic shows at Santa Barbara’s Soho Restaurant and Music Club and Figueroa Mountain Brewery in Los Olivos.
Growing up in the Thousand Oaks, CA area, Casey recalls that there was always music playing in her house. Her dad introduced her early on to his favorites Glen Campbell and Jackson Browne, while her grandfather was an Eagles devotee. When her parents took her to a Faith Hill and Tim McGraw show around the age of seven, she developed a passion for contemporary country and groups like Rascal Flatts. She and her younger sister Haley (who is pursuing a career in commercial dance and choreography) were always performing skits for the family.
Eager to cultivate her musical talents, her parents started her on guitar lessons at age seven. Taking her high school equivalency exam at 16, Casey began performing live while attending Moorpark College, where she took part in the Applied Music Program for Voice and Guitar and also studied journalism and was the editor in chief of the school’s newspaper. She released her debut single “And Me” in April 2018.
“As the title of Where I Run hints at, I am definitely constantly on the go, pursuing my dream and all the musical and other adventures that come my way,” Casey says. “Yet I am also very grounded in the sense that I have a strong sense of who I am as a person and artist, have a strong moral compass and am in tune with what I want to achieve in life and music. I strongly believe that life is what you make it, and where there’s determination, great things can happen. I am a spontaneous person by nature and love change, so embracing the unknown and seeing where the journey takes me from here is really exciting.”