Joshua Radin’s We Were Here challenges modern folk artists to consider a whole new sound. His tracks contain both subtle melodies and whispering voices that are common within the genre, but also modern sounds that have the capability to attract an entirely new audience.
We Were Here, Radin’s first album, became the bestselling folk album on iTunes upon its 2006 release. His music was discovered by many thanks to close friend and actor Zach Braff, who after hearing Radin’s single, “Winter,” included his music on the soundtrack to his film, The Last Kiss, as well as on his television series, Scrubs. Since then, Radin’s has become a household name for “whisper rock” fans.
Much of the album is about a struggle of love. It begins with “Sundrenched World,” a song about wanting to belong with someone who is caught up in his or her own world. The song is beautifully accompanied with background strings and a female harmony. “Star Mile” seems to give a piece of advice to men, saying “And if you burn the road/That’ll lead you back to her in time/I watch you turn to stone/You can’t find the sunlight.”
The first real upturn in the album is with “Everything’ll Be Alright (Will’s Lullaby),” where Radin seems to be trying to comfort himself and those around him, although he is unsure himself. This song leads right into one of the most upbeat tracks on the album, “These Photographs.” It's a very happy song, the kind you'd want to hear walking down the street on a sunny day.
Then, for an emotional twist, “Closer” is about someone hiding their feelings. Radin is urging this person to cry and let his or her true emotions to show. Unfortunately, the beauty of this song leads into “Today,” which is less impressive. This track is my least favorite from the album, both lyrically and musically.
Musically, "Winter" is the best song — and the one that gained Radin his fame — as its male and female harmony is astoundingly beautiful and is matched with heart-twisting lyrics that everyone can relate to. “Someone Else’s Life” and “Amy’s Song” are both heartfelt songs depicting the battles and trials of love. My favorite song from the album, “What if You,” is about saying goodbye, seemingly ending the romances that the previous nine tracks had laid out. Truly a masterpiece.
The final two songs are covers of “Only You” — originally written by Vince Clark of Depeche Mode and performed by the band Yazoo in the early '80s — Radin’s version including bells chiming against its soft lyrics, making for a modern take on the original. However, the final track is a remix of this song with Imogen Heap that plays with new sounds, echos, and stereo functions. Both versions are incredible.
I would suggest We Were Here album to anyone that really appreciates indie rock/folk music, especially fans of Damien Rice, The Weepies, or Jack Johnson.