With Barcelona, Zak Sobel managed to capture the carefree spirit of Bruno Mars, combine it with the rough-and-ready storytelling of Jim Croce, and season the mix ever so slightly with a hint of late 60s rock-n-roll infused with backwoods Americana.
Although Sobel doesn’t reinvent the wheel here, Barcelona is more than a simple play on pop music past. With a voice entrenched firmly in the now, you’d swear you’ve heard Sobel perform as the opening act for artists across the country. Fortunately, the appeal of Barcelona is as much in the delivery as in the craftsmanship.
Much of the material on his new release Target Rock is the same as on Barcelona. Among the repeats is the standout track Voodoo Woman, which showcases Sobel’s ability to pepper tried-and-true chord progressions with catchy melodies, creating hooks that will resonate with the listener, even when the lyrics fall flat.
Crooning lines such as “You’re the only one who can bring me home,” and “Without you I don’t know what I’d do,” on Bring Me Home, and Sugar, respectively, Sobel’s lyrical content tends to remain focused on the push and pull of love and necessity.
Target Rock feels like a collection comprised of several years’ worth of material, possibly spread across several sessions. The differences in mixing and sound quality from track to track are often disconcerting. The same could be said for Sobel’s tendency to genre surf. While the players prove more than capable on each individual track, the product as a whole seems disjointed and is lacking the flow that one expects when listening to a full album.
The Zak Sobel fans who enjoyed Barcelona may question whether the six new tunes on Target Rock really worth the extra effort. We think the answer the answer is yes. For anyone on the fence, here’s hoping Zak’s next release brings a cohesive blend of fresh material.