When most of us were sixteen, chances are we were dealing with acne issues, body changes and the mystery of the opposite sex. Well, the latter is still a concern for some, so consider that a constant. So with all of that in mind, it’s all the more astounding to find 16-year-old Sammy Brue tackling the weight of the world with his innocently entitled album I Am Nice. It’s nice indeed, at least as far as the supposed innocence and ability a boy of his tender years can accord.
Given the credence accorded when someone like John Paul White is at the helm — no small distinction in itself — Brue takes a formidable stance on songs like “I Know,” Was I The Only One,” “I Don’t Want You To Leave,” and “I’m Not Your Man,” tackling decidedly adult issues having to do with the fragility of hopeless romance. And while the latter bears a particular hint of irony — a boy who’s barely into his teens asserting his adulthood — he does so with a knowing glance, one both tender and tenacious and assuring of genuine appeal throughout.
Still, don’t be mistaken. As feisty as he appears at times, Brue can’t help but betray the fact that he is still a kid after all. His voice vacillates between the awkward upper register of still evolving adolescence and the assertive sound that conveys his conviction. And when he sings a line like “I was born into a river of filth/But I swear Lord, I had no clue” on the album’s final track, “Salty Times,” suffice it to say he’s tackling the kind of angst that’s generally encountered by those at least a couple of times his age.
Still, given the emphatic energy and delivery, I Am Nice ought not to be judged on the accumulated years of the individual making it, but rather on the skill set involved. And on that score, it’s more than nice indeed.