October 21, 2010

Test Spins: Joshua Radin

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From the opening notes of The Rock and The Tide, it’s clear that Joshua Radin has decided to take his music in a new direction. Unlike his first two albums, which were dominated by quiet acoustic ballads, The Rock and The Tide is littered with far more up-tempo numbers. The result is somewhat jarring and primarily vanilla.

Opening number “Road to Ride On” features heavy percussion, electric guitars and an orchestral arrangement, all of which will sound mostly foreign to long-time fans of Radin. However, Martin Terefe’s production ends up complementing Radin’s voice, and the optimistic lyrics that he and Radin wrote, rather nicely. The same goes for “Streetlight,” which begins slowly before growing into lush country-folk number.

Radin’s greatest strength has always been his ability to weave well crafted hooks around contemplative verses. Yet, this happens only sparingly on The Rock and The Tide. Upbeat numbers like “Nowhere to Go” and “You’re Not as Young” sound inorganic and lack the substance of Radin’s previous work.

Both “The Ones with the Light” and “Here We Go” feature seemingly unnecessary synthesizer riffs. The former falls apart rather quickly and ends up becoming this album’s biggest misfire, while the latter begins like a Euro-Pop track from the 90s. Its only saving grace is the bridge, on which Radin is able to really wail.

Unsurprisingly, the album’s more reserved tracks are it most successful. “The Rock and the Tide” finds Radin questioning the state of modern love with lyrics like “Everyone gets what they want too fast, these days. No one knows the way to make things last.” Similarly, on “One Leap” he talks himself through the decision to move on from a love that he couldn’t make last.

Other than “Road to Ride On,” “You Got What I Need” is the highlight of this otherwise middling offering. With simple production, akin to John Mayer circa Continuum, and poignant lyrics, it’s the type of song you can envision couples dancing to on their wedding day.


Original Author: Wesley Ambrecht