Singer-songwriter Sam Brenner was born in Buffalo, but he's been making a name for himself in Cleveland for a half-dozen years. His placid voice recalls adult-rock favorites like Jason Mraz and James Blunt, and he puts it to good use on his sharp-sounding debut, starting with the opening notes of the semi-acoustic "Through the Fire." Brenner is at his best when he supplies a soulful twist, as in "Bigger Than Me" and the prickly "Ask July." The happy-go-lucky "Honey Eyes" and "Simplicity" come off as a little naive, but the road-ready "So Long, So Soon" suggests Brenner has plenty of worldly wisdom. — Jeff Niesel
Sam Brenner performs at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 30, at Around the Corner in Lakewood, and at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 2, at Hermes Winery in Sandusky. Tickets to the Around the Corner show are $20, available at atccafe.com; admission to the Hermes Winery show is free. Visit hermesvineyards.com for more info.