Many may already be familiar with Joshua Radin through his seemingly never-ending list of song placements in movies (Dear John) and television shows (Scrubs, American Idol, & Grey’s Anatomy). With Underwater, Radin, a Shaker Heights, Ohio native, brings his acoustic, soft-spoken style to the forefront in his fourth studio album.
Having never fully realized the silence one experiences underwater (as he punctured his eardrum as a child and was told to avoid submerging his head), Radin had a revelation after taking a spur-of-the-moment dive into the Pacific. As a result of this life-changing event, Radin began constructing this album.
What to expect from Radin: stripped vocals, intensely hushed whispers, and an unmatched sincerity within his lyrics. His instrumentation choices are usually minimalistic and kept pretty simplified throughout with finger-plucked guitars and an ever present unwinding ambiance. After experimenting with a slightly faster paced sound on his last project, Radin returns to form with this relaxed, acoustic album.
“Tomorrow Is Gonna Be Better,” is a blissful opener where Radin glides over a gentle guitar and light strings and sings, “Let the rain fall / Let the rain fall / Until the day is new / Tomorrow is gonna be better.” We’re only one song in and already a vulnerability is beginning to reveal itself to first time listeners.
Another classically Radin track, “Underwater,” reveals his inspiration for naming and creating this album. The first lines, “Everybody’s too loud / can’t listen to myself / I need somewhere where I can go,” not only exposes Radin’s troubles with the hustle and bustle of every day life, but set the stage for a timely revelation that will change his life. Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite tracks I’ve heard from him to date.
Traveling through and stopping at the middle half of the album, it’s pretty apparent that a lot of these songs sound pretty similar. That’s just Radin’s style— these soft, tender, and kindhearted temperaments give him his signature sound. “Five and Dime” and “Here’s Where We Begin” are very similar in flavor and are must listens regardless.
This LP is a mature showing for the 38-year-old singer/songwriter. His lyrics are as simplified as always, making it easy to see the source of his vulnerability. Immersing yourself into his songs takes some guts, but I promise you will come out the other side with a better understanding of who Joshua Radin is as a person and why so many have praised him for staying true to himself.
To close, I realize that his softness may be an atypical addition to your library, but everyone needs a few minutes of solitude and contemplation to overpower many everyday stressors. With that said, I would even go as far to say Radin’s music is the perfect prescription to counteract these virus-like effects of the dreaded forty-hour work week. Definitely give it a listen if you haven’t already. This guy knows how to make chill music…