Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Joshua Radin: We Were Here

Written by Cara De Pescado

Joshua Radin is one of the artists that should be glad he’s a friend of Zach Braff. Zach Braff likes music, as can be seen by putting together the soundtrack for films like Garden State and The Last Kiss as well as his TV show Scrubs. I’m not sure if Scrubs or Zach Braff’s blog is what tipped me off on Joshua Radin first, but I am glad it did. Even then, Joshua Radin would have been able to find his way to the limelight without a leg up.

We Were Here was initially available exclusively on iTunes where it easily because the Number 1 bestselling folk album and was in the Top 30 overall. Not bad considering it is Joshua Radin’s first full-length CD; 2004’s EP First Between 3rd & 4th contained only six songs.

Radin wrote ten of the eleven songs on We Were Here, with Vince Clarke’s “Only You” being the only cover. Yaz or Enrique Iglesias fans will recognize “Only You,” no it isn’t the song John Lennon and Elvis sing of the same name. I’d never heard it sung without a thick accent and it really is a gem when Radin sings it.

Which is really the point of the whole CD, Radin is truly a diamond in the rough. His voice is unique, almost a whisper, making it seem more intimate. The breathiness to his voice is the perfect match to the airy songs he writes. Centering on love, both new and lost, his voice contains a sort of romanticism that seduces you to join his journey.

Not only is his voice exquisite, but Radin really does have a talent for songwriting. The Singer-Songwriter genre is full of people who can’t sing, can’t write, or both. But he is the light in the distance, the beacon for which the others must strive. With a few words he can entice you, inciting emotions so strong you would think they were your own instead of his. Add moving cello arrangements on top of the beautiful words and you have the recipe for a great CD.

The opening track, “Sundrenched World,” beautifully explains insecurities in love. Yet his vulnerability lacks the in-your face heart-on-your-sleeve feeling of the likes of James Blunt. Although hailed as the new Elliot Smith, Joshua Radin maintains his individuality.

“Star Mile” has a more ditty-like feel to it with more obvious rhyming but it isn’t so sing-songy as to beat you over the head with it. The song also beautifully showcases how well Priscilla Hartranft and Radin harmonize. “These Photographs” is more upbeat and demonstrates the intelligence behind his songs. I mean, how many artists mention Sylvia Plath, Simone de Beauvoir, Nina Simone, and Mary Cassat in one song? And what fitting people to connect to the images he keeps in his mind of his loved one.

While “Only You” is great for being recognizable, “Winter” is my favorite song on the album. With lyrics like “your voice is the splinter inside me,” how can you not feel the pain and longing Joshua Radin is singing about?

The airiness to his voice makes ballads a great match for Joshua Radin. Personally, I love the ballads. However, I can understand where some would find it repetitive and wish for some variety. Either way, Joshua Radin’s music speaks to that place in your heart where you know you are home and everything is at peace.

And if you can’t tell, I really like Joshua Radin's CD.