Sometimes you can be so musically literate it doesn’t translate to the record. Joel Sarakula is a London-based but Sydney born songwriter who puts together slick sounding music from a swathe of pop and soul influences. There’s the retro-soul ‘When The Summer Ends’, with its skittery guitar and brass echoes of Average White Band and Stevie Wonder, a slinky Fleetwood Mac soundalike on ‘European Skies’, and the tone of Harry Nilsson on the balladic pop of ‘Hypnotised’. It’s accomplished but it lives too much on its influences and ‘Stay (If You Need Me)’ is modern soul so polished to the point of pastiche that it could be a favourite on Jools Holland’s lazy music show. There’s goodness though – ‘They Can’t Catch Me’ is Todd Rundgren mixing rock and a Northern Soul rhythm and the excellent track ‘Northern Soul’ (the best choice of single) isn’t actually of that genre but more like 70s orchestral pop with clever wordplay: “I wanna touch your Northern soul”.
He’s a knowledgeable guy whose second album will impress with its breadth of influences but will always come up a little short on originality and the thrill of discovery.