Sam Gray ‘Brighter Day’

Sam Gray is a British singer-songwriter who sounds like an American singer-songwriter. His debut album – ‘Brighter Day’ – is a collection of breezy acoustic songs that shine brightly (sorry) in their simplicity. Perhaps it’s his warm vocals and gushy lyrics, or perhaps his pop-rock song structures, but, either way, Gray sounds like some kind of hybrid of American pop-rock and pop-folk acts.

Brighter Day’ boasts a summery, upbeat vibe, and when a singer-songwriter goes down that sun-soaked path there is pretty much no way to avoid comparisons with Jack Johnson. So yes, there are ska-tinged numbers that sound a little like Johnson – as on ‘Aeroplanes & Possibilities’ and ‘Starting to Wonder’ – but unlike Johnson, Sam Gray delivers enough variety on his album to ensure people quickly forget about Jack and his vanilla surf music. There are some fabulous little soul slash rhythm & blues pop songs – such as the title track ‘Brighter Day’ and the lovely ‘Two Hearts – as well some Frank Turner-inspired, country-folk-rock on the previously released ‘Cartwheel Queen’ (by the way, Gray is no Frank Turner). ‘How It Ends’ begins as a quiet Alan Pownall-esque pop-folk number (even his voice sounds a lot like Pownall here), before some female R’n’B vocals get involved and Gray loses his funk with some groovy keys.

Much of the album, however, has an Americana-pop-rock feel to it – and the album is all the better for it. Songs like ‘All Of My Life’ and ‘City Lights’ sound like alt-rock ballads by Goo Goo Dolls or Counting Crows, and the infectious ‘Fireflies’ sound just like pop-rockers Nine Days. Pop-folk tracks ‘Weak Side Up’ and highlight ‘Senorita’ are remarkably like the sorely missed Weekend Excursion, particularly the latter, which evens boasts a similar use of violin. Perhaps the lyrics “keep on moving on” are a reference to Weekend’s Excursion song ‘Moving On’ – the two songs certainly sound quite similar.

Sam Gray has a decent ear for a melody, and his voice is nice and soothing. Although there is nothing at all here that is even remotely original, that doesn’t mean Gray is lacking any kind of spark. It’s just his spark is in being unashamedly understated – there is no wild finger-picking, rude-boy rapping, or off-kilter song structures, just straight-forward pop songs. It may be a little cheesy and/or sickly for some, but I think most will find something to like on ‘Brighter Day.’ Also, having already supported both Charlie Simpson (of Fightstar) and Westlife, and with a tour with The King Blues coming up, there is no denying his genre-crossing appeal.

Originally published by AAA Music here

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~ by cliveparisrozario on October 9, 2011.

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