A Rave for Radin

23 Nov

I hadn’t really heard of Joshua Radin before my friend Fidge asked me a couple weeks ago if I’d be interested in going with her to his concert at the House of Blues here in Boston. I said yes, and I’ll admit that after listening to his two albums, and finding his music pleasant but maybe a little too low key for my tastes, I didn’t really have high hopes for the show. But I have to say, Radin’s an awfully talented and engaging live performer and I really did enjoy the concert. Sure, he started the show by singing the one song I knew best, “Brand New Day,” but his voice and lyrics really impressed me and kept me entertained for the entire 90-minute set.

Maybe you’ve heard of Radin because his song “Today” was Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi’s wedding song. His music has also been featured on Grey’s Anatomy and Scrubs, and on the soundtrack for the movie The Last Kiss (most likely because he’s Zach Braff’s good buddy). Radin’s music is similar to that of Jeremy Fisher or Josh Kelley, which is to say it’s chick-friendly, guitar-strumming, sensitive-guy singer/songwriter tuneage, with a sound not unlike modern-day Simon & Garfunkel. It’s “whisper rock,” the kind of music you can “put your babies and dogs asleep to,” as Radin himself described it on Sunday night. Yes, it’s mostly mellow stuff, the kind you might hear in a coffee shop on any given night, but in Radin’s case, it’s quite good … if you like that sort of thing. (And for the record — no pun intended — his most recent release is called Simple Times.)

Radin’s show Sunday night was like an episode of VH1’s Storytellers: The stage had little on it other than Radin and his 4-man band (and some lamps), and before each song, Radin explained its backstory. The HoB’s excellent, sharp sound system — and an audience that barely made a peep during the songs — allowed us to hear every word clearly. While he didn’t sing “Only You” (another song I’d heard before — probably because it’s a cover of the Yaz song), he did play others that I look forward to getting to know better, such as “I’d Rather Be with You,” “No Envy No Fear,” and “You Got Growing Up to Do.” He also got some yayas out by singing some more uptempo songs from his soon-to-be-recorded third album, which should be out sometime next year. And then he closed the show with a great cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright),” during which he was joined by openers the Kin and the Watson Twins.

I always enjoy finding a “new” artist that I can add to my iPhone playlist. Radin’s concert was a pleasant surprise, and his music will certainly get a few more “spins” from me.

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