After a brief exploration of louder, rockier material in his last album, singer/songwriter Joshua Radin has returned to the softer sounds that first defined his music career with his fourth studio release Underwater.
In a day where “loud” seems to equal “good” in pop music, who would have thought that a guy whose singing style sounds more like intense whispering than singing could get very far? And yet, Joshua Radin has not only found an established audience, but has amassed one of the most impressive resumes of TV/film song placements of anyone in the industry—75 and counting. Underwater will no doubt add a few more to that list. Not bad for a guy who didn’t pick up music until adulthood, and who had only been playing guitar for a couple of years when his first album was released.
To tell the truth, Radin’s last album The Rock and the Tide seemed like a bit of a sellout, perhaps made out of a sense of pressure to pick up the pace musically. For most artists, this might have been a smart move, but not for Radin. In a culture accustomed to hype and volume, some might deem his music to be a bit sleepy, but the truth is that Joshua Radin’s soft-spoken musical style is a key element to his sound. When he tried to pump up the volume, it didn’t really even sound like him anymore. His signature sound missing, The Rock and the Tide sort of got lost in the plethora of other, similar sounding pop/rock efforts.
But Underwater changes all that. Radin’s whisper-song is back, lilting over finger-picking guitar riffs stylings and light orchestration, offering the easiest of listening experiences. From the hopeful ballad “Tomorrow Is Gonna Be Better” to the dramatic, orchestral closer “Any Day Now,” Radin has created a well-produced collection of songs that are signature Joshua Radin, only better (if that’s possible). The overall sound is refined and mature, putting its best foot forward for the fans who have grown to love the sound of Radin’s music. Must-listens on the record include “Let It Go,” “Underwater” and “Five and Dime,” but really there isn’t a misstep to be found here.
As I said, for some artists, it would be a positive move to create something louder, more energetic, or whatever. But Joshua Radin seems resonate most when he is in that quiet place—his softness is his “loudness.” Fans will be glad to know that he is back.
ALBUM RATING: 4 Stars (out of five)