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Radin Veers Off Somewhere I Won't Follow ...
on October 26, 2010
Okay, here's the thing ... I love, love, LOVE Joshua Radin. His style is (or was) unique, his voice quiet and thoughtful, his lyrics emotional and deep. We Were Here was such a groundbreaking album for me. It is largely responsible for my being a fan of acoustic music. Winter, Star Mile, Closer ... These were classics that have been stuck in my head since the first time I've heard them. Simple Times, though different, had some very high points, such as Sky, I'd Rather Be With You, Brand New Day, Friend Like You, and so on. The Rock and the Tide, at least upon first listen, seems to be so far out of the range of what Mr. Radin is known for, what he does best, and what got him where he is, that it's like he's going in a direction I'm not really willing to follow. He was once a subtle voice in a noisy world. Now he's just part of the noise. I understand artists have to progress. I'm a recording artist myself so I understand that all too well. But you can't go so far beyond where you came from that you can't see home anymore at all, and it feels like that's where Joshua Radin is heading, as if the acoustic stuff he wrote was only out of necessity because he wasn't big yet and couldn't afford his own band and so he'd settle for acoustic songs for now until he could do what he really wanted to do. I mean, there's only like two songs were the acoustic guitar is the main instrument it seems like. There are no female vocals -- that's part of his sound! Where's Priscilla Ahn? Where's Ingrid Michaelson? Now, I'll listen to this CD again and see if I think differently. It may just be that I'm refusing to accept his new direction because I'm too fettered to the old one. It happens. And sometimes, I'll re-listen in a few weeks and go, "Wow! What was I thinking?! This is GREAT!" And sometimes I'll listen and go, "Yep. Still sucks." So, what will happen here? I don't know. But I will give it a chance. But my initial response, quite frankly, is disappointment.
A note on the live DVD -- Okay, first of all the mix is way off. Thin acoustic guitars and massive pounding bass drums. I don't know who mixed this or who the sound guy was, but someone fell asleep at the switch, as it were. Also, where are those favorites? I mean, there were a few, but NOTHING from We Were Here. It's a good thing the DVD came free with the CD because if I had spent money on it I would be jacked.
To Joshua Radin, I would say this in summation: The acoustic guitar has been around for many a year, and no one's tired of it yet. Yes, from complex finger-picking to simple chord strumming, countless people play the acoustic guitar and still sell CDs, get people to listen, and so on, and they do so because the songs they play are real, they're organic, they're human. Of course, rock n' roll has been around for quite some time, too, and many people enjoy it's loudness. Personally, I don't think you do the loud stuff good enough to make your way in this world with rock n' roll. You did, however, do the acoustic stuff with such passion, elegance, realness and humanity that you could've made ten more albums building on what you started in your first major label release and would have made a name for yourself as the quintessential acoustic singer-songwriter. Now you're just another guy sounding like the rest. So my advice, for what it's worth to ya, is take a step back, regroup, and try again. You don't have to put out We Were Here part 2, but you don't have to try to put out Born in the USA either. Springsteen already did that, and he did it better than you'll ever do it.