# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Joel Sarakula - The Imposter

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 23 / 12 / 2015

Joel Sarakula - The Imposter
Label: We Are Elevate Records
Format: CD


Excellent second album from Anglo-Australian Joel Sarakula which is a perfect blend of soul and psych-tinged pop.

Joel Sarakula was born in Sydney but now calls London home, ‘The Imposter’ is his second album, his debut, ‘The Golden Age’, despite numerous plays on BBC Radio 2, 6 Music and BBC London to name just a few, never reached these ears. On reading Sarakula’s press release for ‘The Imposter’ his sophomore effort nearly didn’t make it this way too. There are, believe it or not, still those around who can (almost) vividly remember what it was like to be part of a certain group or movement, or call it what you will. There seem to be a growing number of writers who were around for pivotal moments in music; it would be interesting for example to know for certain how many people actually attended the first (or any early) Sex Pistols' gig and compare that number to those who claim to have been there. One thing that bugs this writer is this nostalgia for a past that was never real for certain people. I’ve nothing against new artists taking inspiration from the past to create new music. It’s what keeps it alive and hopefully fans of the new breed will check out the original sources so everyone’s a winner. But mention a new artist who is trying to capture the sound and atmosphere of ‘Northern Soul’ and I’ll run a mile. For some reason that one genre, for this fan anyway, can never be recreated successfully; so many have failed and tried through the years. When Joel Sarakula’s (who was off to a shaky start anyway by calling his album ‘The Imposter’) press release gave notice that the single pulled from the album was titled ‘Northern Soul’ and was "a driving turn through retro-stylings that reflects his love of the genre", then I simply had to give the track a listen just to see if there was a newcomer capable of understanding or even partly capturing the scene in some way. To be honest, even though I had every intention of listening with an open mind, I felt it wasn’t going to live up to the claims made and was ready to start one of my rants. Now all I can say is that I don’t know how young Joel Sarakula is but he’s done the almost impossible. The track ‘Northern Soul’ has the beat, the tempo and all the markings of a classic from that genre but somehow Sarakula has dragged the idiom kicking and screaming from the sixties and, while not losing any of what made it so special in the first place, added a contemporary twist. Maybe even more important than that, lyrically Sarakula has excelled. The song opens with the lines of “Your skinny legs out in the cold/I caught your eye/I wanna touch your Northern soul” before a run of even more astute lyrics. Take it from an old soul boy, just on that one song Joel Sarakula has shown he’s no mere imposter, I was ready to take that song apart, and he’d won me over on the very first line. There have been a good few blue-eyed soul albums in recent times and new American artists like Leon Bridges are also keeping the soul-flag flying, but ‘The Imposter’ is different on a few levels. Sarakula mixes the classic soul of all the greats from that genre with a little Northern Soul (obviously) but also mixes in pop, a few jazzy touches and a dash of psychedelia. Lyrically he’s no slouch either, ‘Coralie’, a piano-based ballad with a few unexpected psych-flourishes, recounts the feelings of an ageing dancer so articulately you feel her loss and pain. There’s even a touch of Burt Bacharach in there somewhere. It’s a remarkable piece of music. While ‘The Imposter’ should be classed as a soul album for many reasons (and not just for the sound Sarakula has captured on certain tracks) songs such as ‘Chelsea Gun’, while still showing his love of 60's and early 70's music, show a completely different side to Sarakula. The captivating melody, unusual instrumentation and his usual fascinating lyrics all combine to prove that Sarakula truly can straddle many different styles to create a sound of his own. The album was produced and arranged by Sarakula who also penned all the songs. The aforementioned ‘Chelsea Gun’ is a co-write with Charlie Turner while ‘Happy Alone’ sees Sarakula collaborating with Kathryn Williams and Ida Wenoe, although surely lyrics like “All the empty kids are waiting to be filled up/And the curry houses shouting come in we have a table/All the skinny jeans are out for drinking” come from Sarakula. They carry the by now expected Sarakula knack of capturing the little things that make his songs so real. That he can go from the adult pop (again Bacharach comes to mind) of that song straight into ‘Young Man’s Game’, which is the funkiest Chic-influenced track on the album (although ‘European Skies’ comes a close second), with such ease also says much about Sarakula’s talent. Reviewing from a download and despite a little searching, the names of the background singers remain unknown to me but they deserve a mention if only for their work on ‘Stay (If You Need Me)’, another funk-inspired track that really shines. ‘The Imposter’ continues to surprise. Even after a number of plays it’s throwing out new sounds, smart lyrical couplets, and reveals more musical directions in each song than most albums do over their whole duration. It’s a solid set of songs from an artist who so obviously knows how to shape sounds of the past so they sound totally contemporary. Sarakula is definitely one to watch out for.

Track Listing:-
1 They Can't Catch Me
2 When The Summer Ends
3 Hypnotised
4 Northern Soul
5 Chelsea Gun
6 Happy Alone
7 Young Man's Game
8 Children Of A Higher Light
9 Coralie
10 European Skies
11 Stay (If You Need Me)
12 Another World Another Time

Band Links:-

Label Links:-

Post A Comment

your name
ie London, UK
Check box to submit

digital downloads


most viewed articles

most viewed reviews

Pennyblackmusic Regular Contributors