The strength of The Simple Things, Tammy Sundelius’ first album, is a pop-country cornerstone: vocals. More than just strong, loud and backed by believeable feeling, Sundelius’ voice treads in a presto-chango realm the genre too often lives without.

In turn, the first three tracks—the urgently peppy I’m Gonna Fly, piano-backed His Hands and resolute Things You Can’t Change—crank through a vocal catalog that calls to mind Martina McBride, Kelly Clarkston and Carrie Underwood. Impressive influences all, and good indication that Sundelius is on the right track.

Range and variety, unfortunately, isn’t the hallmark of the album as a whole, which seems to hit a note of pleading, tender ballads and stick there a few songs too long. We can hardly blame her. Sundelius carries that note well, and proves herself a thoughtful, competent songwriter besides—a claim even some of the most successful pop-country ladies can make.

My faves? Sydney’s Song, a truly tender and story-rich nugget about a mother who left her daughter behind, and the radio-ready Without Your Love.

I may not keep The Simple Things on heavy rotation, but I am keeping it; odds are good Sundelius is going to carry herself closer to the big time soon.

Watch a video of Sundelius performing Taylor Swift’s White Horse.

Watch a video of Sundelius performing her song, One More Time.