Pillbox

Radin reinvents his sound

Joshua Radin performed at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City in 2006 with the Cary Brothers, Tom McRae, Kevin Devine, Jim Bianco, and Kate Havnevik on the Hotel Cafe Tour. (credit: Courtesy of Sceptre UK on flickr) Joshua Radin performed at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City in 2006 with the Cary Brothers, Tom McRae, Kevin Devine, Jim Bianco, and Kate Havnevik on the Hotel Cafe Tour. (credit: Courtesy of Sceptre UK on flickr)

Joshua Radin is known for his soft, soothing voice; honesty; and simple, fresh lyrics. The latter two qualities are unsurprisingly present in his third album, The Rock and the Tide, but he diverges from his usual soft voice and acoustic guitar songs, making his new album a complete departure from his previous two.

Radin first appeared on the radar in 2006 when he released his debut album, We Were Here, which Rolling Stone rated four stars. He introduced us to his whisper-like voice and his candid words. Then, in 2008, he released Simple Times, making listeners fall in love with his music all over again. Still, this sophomore album was very similar to his first, and listeners held their breath, wondering if Radin would take the much-needed step in a different direction. They did not have to wait long, for The Rock and the Tide has more pep and beat to his voice and rhythm, while still maintaining the same frank lyrics.

“Here We Go” wanders the furthest from the Radin we know. With a strong drumbeat and synthetic sounds, the opening could be mistaken for one of Miike Snow’s.

“Streetlight” adds a banjo to the mix, giving the piece a country, folky feel.

“The Ones With the Light” is where Radin gets lost on his quest to change. The attempt at punk beat undertones never quite matches up with his voice, and the end result leaves the listener with a desire to delete the track from his music library.

However, Radin doesn’t completely spin off track in his third album. In fact, the old and new sounds are split pretty evenly. Radin sticks to his roots in his title track, “The Rock and the Tide,” as well as in “You Got What I Need,” “Think I’ll Go Inside,” and “One Leap.” With only an acoustic guitar and his voice, “One Leap” is stripped down and raw.

One of the best tracks on The Rock and the Tide is “Road to Ride On,” a piece that starts with the ticking of a muted guitar and slowly builds with the addition of piano chords and drums. The piece ends like a slow ballad, with a haunting piano line supported by the soft echoing of strings. In it, Radin sings, “I’m always the last one / Never ready for the fast ones / Well, it’s time to change / So we make our plans / Set our sights on a new land / One that’s kind of strange.”

The change was much needed, and Radin did a wonderful job of merging old and new. Yes, this land might be kind of strange, but Radin has adapted to it perfectly.