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Joshua Radin The Rock and the Tide Review

Album. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

Solid third set from the soundtrack-conquering pop strummer.

Andy Fyfe 2011

According to Wikipedia, Joshua Radin’s music has been placed in over 75 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill, Brothers and Sisters, Scrubs and the like, so no prizes for guessing that he hardly operates at the Tom Waits-ian, chicken grease ’n’ road grit end of the singer-songwriter spectrum.

Those TV dramas portray an idealised everyman world that 36-year-old Radin himself could have stepped out of. From an anonymous middle-class Ohio city suburb, he doubtless cut a handsome figure in his letterman jacket before quitting the football/track/basketball team to become an actor. Fate intervened when his Scrubs-starring friend Zach Braff played Radin’s first ever composition, Winter, to the show’s producers. Now, three albums later, he’s on speed dial whenever the studio call goes out for a soundtrack to that particularly sensitive ‘what we’ve all learned’ montage. Dissociate the 30-something songwriter from the 30-something drama, however, and… well, actually, it’s nigh impossible to divorce the two, but Radin’s music isn’t as slight and syrupy as that might suggest.

For album number three he’s upped both his game and the tempo. Elliott Smith is still the monkey on his creative shoulder and while Radin doesn’t possess the darkness that, even without hindsight, set Smith apart, he still conveys genuine sensitivity. Frustratingly, however, he rarely goes past the title-track’s "come on and save me" lyrical balm to cut loose on the ecstasy and pain that gets most of us into deep emotional waters.

The big, up-tempo tracks that pack the beginning of the album – Road to Ride On, obvious single I Missed You (exclusive to this UK edition) and bounce-along small-town outsider anthem The Ones With the Light – suit Radin too. It’s only when he reverts to Plan A towards the end that one wonders if a trip to the beach with a Frisbee might lighten the lad up.

The Rock and the Tide may be a solid effort rather than an earth-shattering breakthrough, but the producers’ calls are hardly about to dry up any time soon.

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