The music world has been clamoring for someone to replace Elliott Smith after his tragic death in 2003. Joshua Radin seems ready to take the folk pop rock reins with his first full-length album We Were Here. Although no one can really replace Elliott Smith, Joshua does a pretty good job filling his shoes.
Any fan of the NBC comedy Scrubs will instantly recognize Radin’s voice since some of his songs — most notably the heartbreaking ballads “Closer” and “Winter” — have been featured on the television show. The most interesting thing to note is that Radin and Scrubs’ star Zach Braff share quite the physical resemblance.
Most of the songs on the album are ballads to which Radin performs with the perfect mood and tone to induce just the right amount of tear shedding. The melody of the opening track “Sundrenched World” is played by a cello that creates a classical period atmosphere, taking lyrics like “I close up my mouth, when you're around / I'm suffocating in doubt, I can't make a sound in your sundrenched world” into the same dream world that lovers enter.
The female being is worshiped throughout the album. In the rare upbeat non-ballad “These Photographs,” Radin takes the simple route to describe the love for a woman: “babe, here's your song / babe, it took too long to find / in your eyes, my best surprise.” In the undecorated acoustic ballad “Someone Else’s Life,” Radin further strips the music to mainly just his vocals, again trying to emphasize his words: “then there's you / then came you / when I'm lost / I look at my picture of you.”
But to a point, hearing ballad after ballad makes each song seem ordinary. After “Winter,” the songs become ear candy without much variety. The songs themselves sound fine, but juxtaposed in a bunch and everything sounds repetitious. Radin is talented in both his vocals and song writing that reminds him much of singer/songwriters of the seventies, but musically he doesn’t standout enough. Radin needs to exit his comfort zone and take risks.