Joshua Radin - The Rock & The Tide (Warner/14th Floor)

I was worried about this one. I've given it two spins. My worries were justified. Do you like white bred?

Frankly, this album doesn't belong on a bluegrass / folk reviews site. It doesn't even belong on a singer/songwriter reviews site. I'm sorry to sound harsh but why sign a folky singer/songwriter and then try to turn him into a top 40 charting artist? The album from start to finish sounds like overly polished, auto tuned, pro-tooled, producer led soft pop. And just because there is a synth banjo on track two 'Streetlight' doesn't make it a 'folky' song. Way down the back end of the album there are a few softer, more folky numbers that actually sound half-decent. If you read between the lines here it seems to me that Radin wrote a soft, folky album and the label has brought in producers and writers to try and 'Radio' it up. Thus they've bumped the better songs further down the tracklisting and moved the 'radio' songs up front. 

I have to stress actually that the auto tuning is so bad on the lead into track three 'I missed you' that you can hear the vocal actually being cut up in the transition from pitch to pitch. Not good. Also there seem to be three writers credited on this track. It always amazes me how songs with more writers can be WORSE than those written alone. 

The ONLY song worth half a listen on this ten track indulgence is a track Radin wrote himself 'You Got What I Need'. He's written a beautiful mid tempo guitar ballad. Played out on what sounds like a strat or a tele his voice echoes Ray Lamontagne a little and we can actually start to feel with him. Minimal production of guitar, bass, drums, a beautifully warm rhodes/Wurlitzer type keyboard sound and vocals on this leads me to believe that this album should have been a one track single - with this song plugged to death. This is THE one for sync as far as I can tell. 

Each to his own, but I'd like to hear Radin if he ever makes a real down to earth, heart on his sleeve record produced with no budget. I think that's the place we'll all connect deep down with Radin. The writing and production of this album reminds me far too much of that annoying hat-wearing popper Jason Mraz. Unfortunately, a thumbs down from me on this album barring the song 'You Got What I Need'. If you want to listen to a Josh, try Josh Ritter or Josh Rouse.

by James Cooper