Joshua Radin – The Rock And The Tide
Review by Jack Foley
HAVING wowed many with his sophomore album Simple Times, which charmed everyone with its acoustic musings on love and life, Joshua Radin now returns with a bigger sound on third offering, The Rock And The Tide.
The results are just as impressive, while delivering some effortless crowd-pleasers that provide excellent summer soundtrack bedding for all of our lives.
Radin’s strength lies in his simplicity. He has the looks and charisma to get him noticed but it’s backed by a genuine sense of niceness that’s often relayed in his lyrics.
So, whether delivering the upbeat “oh oh oh oh uh oh oh” intro of lead single I Missed You, complete with shimmering guitar and mandolin licks and feel-good chorus, or stripping things back down and coming over a little more serious on the heart-melting You Got What I Need, there’s an everyman quality about his song-writing that makes him easy to identify with.
On his previous album, for example, a track like Vegetable Car reminisced beautifully about a girl who captured his heart from her car as she drove past him every day. He never spoke to her… but he did write a song. It’s a deeply romantic notion – and something we can all relate to (the good looking stranger who posed the what if possibility).
Likewise, on this album there’s a disarming honesty to the simple romantic notions on Think I’ll Go Inside, one of several nods to the acoustic style of his earlier work, which reflects on another loved one (“I can’t build you a castle, I can’t buy you a ring, I can’t see you tonight, so I miss you”).
It’s a melancholy but strangely beguiling song that’s sure to land Radin with more Elliott Smith comparisons… but it’s a mighty fine song in its own right, delivered with a sensitive and soft vocal that is now the Radin trademark.
But what of the bigger sound I mentioned? It’s all over the place… as underlined by the plugged in opening moments of Road To Ride On, which quickly taps into a classic American rock sound and then embellishes it with some strings support.
The fuller, broader, more vibrant Radin is alive and kicking here… and the melodies and feel-good emotions flow, as they continue to do with the aforementioned I Missed You and the swirling piano loops of the soul-infused Streetlight, another firm favourite.
The Ones With The Light, meanwhile, drops a vaguely blues-rock vibe into the mix that almost hints at mainstream Dandy Warhols, while Here We Go even includes an electronic intro that suggests a side-step into dance, before a striking guitar riff keeps it on the brooding rock path. Both songs deliver further compelling evidence of Radin’s more ambitious sweep.
It’s good, too, that he hasn’t discarded his roots completely, with the acoustic-backed confessionals still being scattered among the rockier moments to disarm and charm as they have before.
What results, is an album that effortlessly wins you over with its easy-going melodies and candid observations on life and love that has to go down as another major success for Radin. It’s a supremely satisfying listen and evidence of an artist who isn’t afraid to evolve and take risks.
And long may he continue to entertain us in this fashion.
Download picks: Streetlight, I Missed You, You Got What I Need, The Ones With The Light, Think I’ll Go Inside, The Rock And The Tide