Casey Weston – Young Heart
I discovered Casey Weston through ReverbNation back in 2013. She was one of the website’s featured artists. Her entire 2013 release, Find the Moon (on bandcamp, where you can listen to full songs and purchase a download) was available to listen to on her ReverbNation site. I downloaded the songs that were available as free downloads and added them to my listen-while-I-work playlist. They soon rose to the top of my list. I was amazed by Casey’s vocals, her lyrics, the ease with which her songs were listenable and memorable. Indeed, while the full 13 songs on Find the Moon are outstanding, ranging from “Crazy Fools” and “The Good Times” to “Back to the Start” and “Ain’t Life Beautiful That Way,” it’s one song, “Happy,” that became a must-listen for me for several months. Catchy, country, sarcastic and independent, it’s a song that appeals to country fans, pop fans, and anyone who likes clever lyrics. As I like to say (and have tweeted), with apologies to Pharrell Williams, Pharrell’s “Happy” is only the second-best song of that title released in 2013, behind Casey Weston’s. Surprisingly, after discovering Casey’s music, I later discovered she had been a final-eight contestant (as part of Adam Levine’s team) on Season One of The Voice. I watched that season of The Voice but didn’t remember Casey; I guarantee if she had been singing her own songs, though, I couldn’t have missed her.
So it was after more than a year of continued appreciation for Casey’s Find the Moon album that I decided to pre-order her Young Heart CD in early 2015. (In CD format so I could more easily play it in my car.) In fact, Casey Weston’s Young Heart is the second of only three CDs I have ever pre-ordered (and I blogged about my first pre-order, blues singer Danielle Miraglia’s Glory Junkies, in my “Road Back” series). I was confident I wouldn’t be disappointed by Casey’s CD, and (spoiler alert!) I wasn’t.
I discovered a lot of great music in my last 2-3 years as a “civilian,” before relaunching my writing career. With that as the backstory, I’m glad to finally be able to share with you the best new country artist I discovered during my hiatus from music journalism, Casey Weston.
CD Review of Casey Weston: Young Heart
From the first time you hear Casey Weston’s voice you know it. She’s country. She’s 100% country. She could sing Mötley Crüe’s “Shout at the Devil,” and it would be country. She could sing Lorde’s “Royals,” and it would be country. She could sing the entire soundtrack of The Phantom of the Opera, and it would be The Phantom of the Opry. Casey’s voice has the lilt and the twang. And the emotion, so much more than you’d expect from such a young country singer, still solidly in her early twenties. And power, so much power when it’s called on, yet also the softness that suggests deep lyrical understanding. And a solid lower register, as well, that drives the verses of some of her songs. Casey’s the complete package, and it would take perhaps just the smallest break to break her huge on country radio (with the occasional crossover pop hit). But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Casey’s current album, Young Heart, showcases the various different styles of her music. First, there are the young, energetic songs. The ones that would take over pop-country radio in a heartbeat. Songs like album-opener “Play It All Again,” which is about the sort of energetic pop-country you’ll find on the country charts, and “Little Bit of Everything,” a celebration of individuality and the seemingly-contradictory parts that make up an interesting person’s whole. (“Play It All Again,” by the way, has introduced the phrase “a good kind of crazy” into my family’s lexicon. Then again, that’s what lyrics with well-turned phrases can do.)
Then there are her more timeless mid-tempo and uptempo numbers. Indeed, Casey’s voice often expresses the depth and experience of a much more mature country artist, and she draws upon that particularly well on a couple of this disc’s tunes. Mid-tempo “Waking Up” tells a good story about coming to one’s senses. “No Strings Attached,” meanwhile, is a cheatin’ crooner that comes across as if from someone with a whole lotta life experience. And such well-crafted lyrics; you’ll find yourself singing along with the chorus once you’ve committed them to memory. (In fact, I’ll link to the Bandcamp page for “No Strings Attached” so you can read the lyrics while you listen.)
There’s also a song on Young Heart that throws in a little of Casey’s trademark attitude. It’s not exactly sass; it’s more like spirit combined with clever lyrics. This is the stuff I really love. There were a couple songs like this on Find the Moon; here, there’s one, the balladic “Never Come Back.” (“Do us both a favor/Don’t come back/Please never come back …”) It’s not as if the rest of the album is devoid of this spirit; rather, this song is fully packed with it. Great for one or two tracks per album; a bit of a trademark her fans certainly look forward to.
One of the more unique songs in Casey’s repertoire, a tune that’s a little more rocking and has a feel and flavor I couldn’t quite place, is “Graveyard.” It has a speaker-rattling rhythm, a little darkness, is very lyrically interesting, of course, and showcases Casey’s vocal agility, lending additional variety to an already-quite-varied album. This song is so engaging that there’s even one spot during which, when my wife and I are listening in the car, all conversation stops so we can sing along with Casey, “You make me go insaaaaane.”
Young Heart closes with a sentimental, drippy romantic ballad. And no ones squeezes the emotion from a balladic lyric any better than Casey does. “Lock & Key” is a lyrical and emotional gem. This song, if it became widely known, could be a first-dance wedding favorite. Great lyrics. (“We fit perfectly/Like a lock and key/I was made for you/You were made for me…”) Classic delivery.
There you have it. An amazing album from a talented young country singer. Casey Weston’s voice is instantly recognizable, and her music is the sort of varied, well-constructed country blend that could be the foundation of a long, successful career. With luck, success will find her soon enough. In the mean time, those of us “in the know” can enjoy some amazing country music the rest of our friends don’t yet know about.
For Casey, hopefully a fast-growing career. I don’t generally plan to write such long reviews, but I am absolutely, exceptionally impressed by Casey Weston’s music, and I hope a few more of you can discover it through this article. I also hope she tours the Northeast sometime in the near future, though that’s mostly just so my wife and I might get a chance to see her perform live.
For the blog, I’m already working on a few more reviews in and around my busy work schedule. I’ve also been having discussions with a few writers — mostly people who wrote for my old publication, but also others I know from my old magazine publishing days — who have expressed an interest in writing for this blog. So I look forward to continuing to treat you to great music reviews, news, and interviews and introducing you to some great additional voices who will do the same.
As for you, if you enjoy reading about great music regardless of genre, please also check out some of the other articles I’ve written in the few weeks since launching Geoff Wilbur’s Music Blog, and please consider signing up to receive this blog in your inbox. We plan to post no more than once per day — initially, as we get started, likely a lot less — so you won’t have to worry about a clogged inbox. On your PC, there’s an option to subscribe at the bottom of the column along the righthand side of this page. On your smartphone, the e-mail subscription option should be at the end of this page.