Joshua Radin – Simple Times

Would you like some cheese to go with that Iron & Wine? If so, Joshua Radin will be more than happy to oblige. Arriving two years after his Zach Braff-endorsed debut We Were Here, the all-too-aptly titled Simple Times doesn’t appear to have moved too far away from wherever Here was. Like that album, it’s another inoffensive, uninspiring set of indistinguishable love songs that range from subtle to slight to saccharine.

Maybe I’m being too hard on him. After all, there are more than a few hints of actual potential scattered throughout this effort. “Vegetable Car” is a valiant stab at tongue-in-cheek that proves Radin capable of genuine wit with a little more practice, while “You’ve Got Some Growin’ Up to Do” – in spite of its unintentionally self-deprecating title – is a charming duet with Patty Griffin. Griffin’s participation, as well as contributions from several other female singers (Schuyler Fisk, Meiko, Erin McCarley) elsewhere on the album, evokes a more willowy Rilo Kiley, and makes it all the more frustrating that Radin’s potential peeking through the blandness is never fully realized.

Instead, listeners are treated to the same whispery folk platitudes of countless Jason Mraz doppelgangers before him. Then there are songs like “Sky” that can’t even be bothered to reproduce those, coasting by on clichéd choruses of “Oh oh’s” and “Ah ah’s.” Radin clearly knows his way around an acoustic guitar, and has a suitably sweet voice for the material, but his singing often straddles a thin-to-the-point-of-non-existent line between soft and soporific, almost as if he has a harder time believing the sincerity of his songs than we do.

Simple Times should not have to call for simple music. After all, love is many things, but seldom if ever simple. The sooner that Jason… I mean Joshua realizes this, the better his future output will be.

Tracklisting:
01. One Of Those Days
02. I’d Rather Be With You
03. Sky
04. Friend Like You
05. Brand New Day
06. They Bring Me To You
07. Vegetable
08. Free Of Me
09. You Got Growin’ Up To Do
10. We Are Okay
11. No Envy No Fear

Joshua Radin: website | myspace

Written by: Rob Huff

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4 Responses

  1. You are insane…Joshua Radin is absolutely amazing and this album is my new favorite – I cannot stop listening to it. You don’t know what you’re talking about….

  2. Hmm…not sure there’s anything wrong with ‘simple songs’, Mr. Huff. Perhaps you need a Prog Rock Sabbatical? “Sky” is the best song on this album by far. It’s made me do some research and find more music by the song’s muse, Ms. Meiko. http://www.myspace.com/meiko – have a listen – but beware Robby – some oft he songs are simple!!

  3. See, I also rather like this album. I think it might be better than his previous cut, and I think it is far more honest. I found very few flaws with it.

    And Emily, I love Meiko. We have an interview with her in a few weeks. Nick and I caught her at Hotel Cafe, and she won our hearts. She’s charming and vulgar. I love that.

  4. uninspiring? what are you on? this album gets me out of bed in the morning. “maybe” you’re being too hard on him? “Definitely” is more like it – get some ears!

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