Fourth Street SingersPanic State Records
By Cole Faulkner
New Jersey singer/songwriter Sammy Kay stands poised to take the scene by storm with with his debut full length, Fourth Street Singers. Trying to pigeonhole him into any conventional category would prove most challenging, but with talents ranging from punk to soul, his gritty and unwavering confidence serving listeners well regardless of which camp he represents. Highly captivating and engrossing, Kay can spin a tale with wizard-like magic, spinning an easy appeal born of acoustic-laced, organ-humming raspy flow akin to a leaner Jaya The Cat.
Sammy Kay kicks things off with the catchy and refreshing sunny day vibe of opener “You Ought To Know.” Born of heavily strummed acoustic chords and a beachside organ glow, Kay’s hoarse tone exudes the welcoming warmth of homely nostalgia. If sound had a colour, Fourth Street Singers would be that of a pastel sunset. That isn’t to say that harmonica-touting, upbeat scenarios like “Saints And Sinners” aren’t pulsing to a lively beat, but they come to pass with worldly knowhow that typically channel into the soulful sounds of chilled out head bobbers like “Your Way.”
Tuning into Sammy Kay is like swaying on a hammock in a beachside cabana. A genuine carefree vibe flows forth from his soulful, grassroots constitution. Uplifting, cheerful “ooo-oo” vocals back the ear-grabbing choruses rounding out “Friday (Searching For The Truth),” while the bluesy organ-heavy number “Shipwreck” dims the light for an intimate performance. Kay’s in-the-moment essence makes every note feel like it may be his last – the sincerity of each word landing with the utmost of intent. Nowhere is Kay’s execution more prominent than on the bonus cover track of the Pitch Perfect hit-single, “Cups.” Laugh if you must, but Kay turns this overplayed commercial mess into a pulsing, soulful expression of grief and individuality otherwise laying dormant in the original.
Sammy Kay makes an old sound feel fresh, new and carefree. Fourth Street Singers is just right for a casual listen on a sweltering summer day, every bit as it would light up the stage in a dingy smoke-filled club. It’s a great accompaniment to bigger, back-in-time looking bands like Gaslight Anthem or The Hold Steady. There are few surprises within the forty minute runtime, but that’s hardly a concern when the result so finely fits all expectations.