Friday, August 6, 2010
Guy Sebastian - Like It Like That
Guy Sebastian - Like It Like That
2009, Sony Music Australia
Guy Sebastian is a soul singer from Australia with a sound that's so retro it's fresh. The judge on Australia's version of The X-Factor is also a surprisingly good vocalist and songwriter, blending 1960's Pop and R&B with more modern sounds in a fashion that could catch chart fire very quickly. Sebastian's US debut, Like It Like That was released in June of this year, featuring performances from John Mayer and Jordin Sparks. Produced by David Ryan Harris (Mariah Carey, Nick Jonas, John Mayer), Like It Like That seems likely to open a lot of doors in the US for Sebastian.
Sebastian opens with "Like It Like That", an incredibly catchy pop tune with a pure 1960s feel. You'll find yourself dancing, laughing and singing along to this romantic summer/party song; you won't be able to get it out of your head. Sebastian sounds a lot like Tom Jones on "All To Myself", a big R&B/pop number that shows off Sebastian's expressive voice in fine fashion. "Art Of Love" is a duet with Jordin Sparks, and a big missed opportunity. The production here is very modern and slick, complete with vocal effects and too much clutter. Both Sebastian and Sparks have tremendous voices and would have been better left to simply spin the song over a minimal arrangement, but David Ryan Harris appears to have been aiming for the Top-40 charts here and in the process ruined what should have been a benchmark duet.
Sebastian gets back to pure pop with "Attention" before sidling into "Magic", a duet with Australian singer Tarryn Stokes. This time they get it right, with both Sparks and Sebastian at the top of their respective games. "Bring Yourself" is a classic 1960's-style soul ballad and offers what may the most dynamic vocal performance of the album. "Never Hold You Down" keeps that classic feel, updating it just enough to make it fresh without losing the essential retro flavor of the tune. Sebastian channels Marvin Gaye on "Fail To Mention" and keeps in the same vein with "Never Be You". Gaye fans may do a double take the first time they hear "Fail To Mention". "Coming Home" is a pure pop/classic R&B confection you can't help but love. Sebastian pulls a major change of pace for the final song, "Perfection", detailing the creation of a woman in heaven. This tune puts the better half of humanity on a collective pedestal and is likely to make a lot of young hearts swoon when Sebastian sings it in concert. At the same time it's quite saccharine and could inspire an equally strong polar reaction from those not inclined to the tune.
Guy Sebastian is at his best when he keeps it simple. This is an artist very much steeped in the traditions of classic R&B and soul music. Sebastian explores these sounds with a distinctive pop sensibility that gets under your skin on Like It Like That. When Sebastian tries to be too modern or too sweet it comes across as less than truthful, but when he stays true to his sound he's personality plus. Like It Like That has its off moments, but balance it's so good you won't be able to put it down. Look out American, here comes Guy Sebastian.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Guy Sebastian at http://www.guysebastian.com.au/ or www.myspace.com/guysebastian. Like It Like That is available through amazing as a pricey import on CD or as a Download. The album is also available digitally via iTunes.