‘Waiting on a Sunny Day’ is the 9th album from the Long Island, New York based rock band Papa Satch, consisting of prolific songwriter Bob Sachnoff on vocals, multi-instrumentalist Steve Ronsen and keyboardist John Zych. The band’s style is primarily in the realm of country-rock with chiming guitar arpeggios riding over boisterous drums.
To a non-American, Papa Satch’s music is like the taste of a world that I am aware of through the music of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, among others. A world home to a warm energy that makes you want to get up and do. It’s a feel-good, blue collar spirit that is already running through your pulmonary system by the 2-minute mark of opener ‘I’ll Be There (Remix)’. The song gives way to a tom-heavy pre-chorus perfect for the crowd to clap along to. Bob’s voice carries the aforementioned sentiment well too; it’s infectious and you can almost hear the grin in his delivery.
The third track ‘Train (Want to Say)’ pulls off a deft combination of elements, with the observational commentary of Simon & Garfunkel and epic instrumental phrases wrapped around an emotional core. As Bob sings of the ironic social isolation of public transport, the guitar and synth retort in unison with massive arpeggios of grandiosity. It’s the band’s sonic equivalent of an ancient Greek temple façade with columns rising high, dwarfing the neighbouring songs. It’s a standout moment in the record, emotionally and musically.
‘Where I’m Going’ brings in stronger 80s influences with Brian Adams and Don Henley-esque guitar phrases complimenting the panned vocal refrains that phase in on the chorus. You won’t forget the name of the song anytime soon as you sing along. Then, the band continue in this mode on ‘There You Go (Remix)’ as Bob’s voice and Steve’s guitar compete for dominance; the latter slathered with a helping of that 80s chorus effect you know and love from so many songs of the era. The subtle keyboard work by John is especially on-point with organ, piano, and bell sounds elevating the track to a meaty, epic number.
In a different 80s direction, ‘Already Know (Remix)’ dials up the joyous pop of Katrina & The Waves. The snare is so nicely washed in reverb, that you’d be forgiven for thinking the track is from the decade it so nicely recreates. Playful, synthetic marimba and horn tones and a pop-tastic tambourine only make the song even more enjoyable. You can hear the band having fun on this one.
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The pace slows down as the album progresses, the band introducing a ballad in ‘Walk Alone’ midway through. The instrumentation is less effective here as they emulate an emotive, Aerosmith break-up piece. Tonally, this song feels isolated on the album with its minor key, lethargic speed, and long run-time at 5:31. While it is produced and performed well, it feels like it’s on the wrong album.
Papa Satch’s forte is in that feel-good, uptempo country-rock that they started the album with. And happily, they return to it in ‘Dreams’. It’s a comfortable jaunt into familiar territory as the crunchy but loose guitar, Bob’s echoing croon and tight harmonies remind you of the charm of earlier songs on the album.
Below is a rating for each song on a scale of 1-10:
I’ll Be There (Remix) – 8
Waiting on a Sunny Day (Remix) – 7
Train (Want to Say) – 9
Where I’m Going – 8
Already Know (Remix) – 8
There You Go (Remix) – 6
Walk Alone – 3
This Land – 6
Dreams – 7
Sent Me Reeling – 7
Rating/Excellent – As the band rounds off the album with ‘Sent Me Reeling’, I recall my initial thoughts of the first track; the feeling of warm energy running through my chest willing me to get up and do something. I am not American, but I can happily buy into Papa Satch’s world of star-spangled sonic touchstones when they are going full-force in broad stroke chords and bluesy pentatonic riffs. It’s feel-good music that hits the spot.
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[We rank albums on a scale of Poor, Mediocre, Good, Excellent, and Outstanding]
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