Joel Willoughby's The Radio Friendly EP falls into a grey area
The Radio Friendly EP (Independent)
If Joel Willoughby is indeed aiming for radio-friendliness with his music, he makes it clear exactly what he means by that on the back of this EP’s sleeve, where he thanks Shore 104.3 for its support. Willoughby’s music is a good fit for the “adult alternative” format because it falls into a grey area's. His songs are darn catchy—dig that whistled hook in “Hazelnut Moon”!—but they’re too personal and singer-songwriterly to pass for mainstream pop. In any case, I have a feeling that Willoughby—notable for his stints with Maplewood Lane and Dawntreader—has little interest in stepping onto that particular playing field.
The songs on this seven-track EP (four songs followed by three remixes) were produced, mixed, and mastered by the prodigiously talented Jonathan Anderson, who also assisted with instrumentation and backing vocals. Anderson’s fingerprints are all over everything, especially the aforementioned “Hazelnut Moon”. I can’t imagine another local producer adding trombone, banjo, and xylophone to a song in a way that actually makes it sound more poppy rather than less so.
Willoughby’s songs are at the centre of it all, of course, and they’re uniformly well-crafted and delivered in an effortlessly smooth fashion (imagine an angst-free Lindsey Buckingham, if you can). The title track, in particular, is a three-minute marvel of synth-spiked sing-along deliciousness. In other words, it’s totally radio-friendly, at least if your station of choice is the type that sandwiches Dan Mangan in between Mumford & Sons and Of Monsters and Men.