Joshua Radin – Underwater (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
HAVING dabbled with a bigger, more plugged in sound on his last album, The Rock And The Tide, American singer-songwriter Joshua Radin now returns to the formula that catapulted him to fame with follow-up record, Underwater… and the results are amazing.
Radin’s Simple Times LP won legions of fans for the way in which it charmed with a number of acoustic musings on love and life (including tracks like I’d Rather Be With You). Underwater offers more of the same lyrically, but the acoustic sound is also embellished by the inclusion of subtle string arrangements, which add an extra element of class.
It elevates Radin from an already great song-writer to one of the very best in the world right now… someone whose timeless style is comparable to the grand masters such as Simon & Garfunkel.
The album gets off to a sublime, if bittersweet start with the moodily optimistic Tomorrow Is Gonna Be Better. A comfort song that’s ripe for our troubled times, it boasts a soft acoustic backdrop, some sensitive vocals, thoughtful lyrics about sticking together and – at various points – some beautifully understated string arrangements.
The strings are slightly more pronounced from the opening moments of Anywhere Your Love Goes, which is similarly moving, and which adopts a grittier edge over the excellent chorus… which has a classic American feel.
Let It Go, meanwhile, is pure Simon & Garunkel, complete with a lovely summer vibe that’s ripe for driving, top down, along some sunlit coastal road… possibly into a happy sunset. It’s just a really great listen – breezy, effortlessly cool and instantly classic.
Five And Dime thrives on the subtle blend of acoustics, piano and strings, while displaying yet another deft story-telling touch; Underwater slow-builds into one of the most beautifully evocative songs of the year (culminating in a wonderful mid-track explosion of instrumentals), and One More drips with moody melancholy to resonate on a slightly more downbeat note (again with some subtly realised strings).
And still the classics keep on coming… The Greenest Grass is a breezy ode to a lost love that’s achingly tender and beautiful, while The Willow is hushed and thought-provoking.
Any Day Now, meanwhile, closes the album out on the most memorable of notes… making more epic use of its string arrangements (the opening is just really captivating and completely strings-based) before delivering another charmer of a record. It’s cinematic, too, in the way that Radin knows how (so many of his songs get snapped up for use across film and TV).
All told, Underwater is – without doubt – one of the best records you’ll hear this year, offering music to enrich a lifetime. Don’t let it pass you by.
Download picks: Tomorrow Is Gonna Be Better, Underwater, Let It Go, Any Day Now, Anywhere Your Love Goes, Five And Dime, The Greenest Grass
- Buy it (Amazon)
- Underwater reviewed
- Joshua Radin - Underwater interview
- The Rock & The Tide reviewed
- Simple Times reviewed