Joshua Radin’s new album, Though The World Will Tell Me So (Vol 1 & 2), elicits the hyperbolic comment: “One Billion People Love Folk Music!” And that’s a bunch, considering Elvis only had “50,000,000 fans who can’t be wrong!” Now, (especially with those capital letters!) that “Billion” braggadocio certainly sounds like those sensational tabloid headlines like “Lock Ness Monster Captured!”, or “Pet Cat Teaches Deaf Child Sign Language!”, and even (and my favourite), “Owner’s Manual To Stonehenge Found!”
But as Peter Gabriel once announced, “Expect the unexpected”. Indeed, sometimes, fame just happens to touch really good singer-songwriters. The universe is odd in that sort of way. The fans, and there are many, will, of course, love this album. But for the initiate, don’t let the fact that our Joshua played at Ellen’s (yes, that Ellen) wedding, made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE, The Today Show, and Conan, and (my goodness!) he has one billion streams and one million-plus albums, curb an interest.
And, as my friend, Kilda Defnut, often says, “Brilliant obscurity is only one Volkswagen car commercial away from fruit tree fame”.
The first song, ‘I’m Just Different’ sets the obvious template for the album’s thematic concerns. There’s a slight piano and percussive pulse that ride with an undercurrent of Joshua’s breathy, sincere, and melodic vocals. Yeah, it’s pop-folk, but it has an immense chorus. And, it’s a wonderful juxtaposition to the much more aggressive Kinks’ song, ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else’, written by Ray and sung by brother Dave!
But ‘Broken’ is a sparce piano ballad that echoes the memory of (the before-mentioned) Peter Gabriel’s second “Scratch” album with songs like ‘Flotsam And Jetsam’ that carved a soulful groove.
And the acoustic guitar simplicity continues with several tunes. ‘My Father’s Eyes’, certainly will appeal to fans of (the always great!) Paul Simon. The song, like ‘Duncan’ just thanks “the Lord for my fingers” with a lovely melody, an introspective lyric, and yearning vocal. Ditto for ‘Over The City’. This is a smokey melodic late-night thought (with swelling strings!) that continues with ‘Rhymin’ Simon’ sincerity. And ‘This One’s For You’ is acoustic folk music bliss, that begins with simplicity, but then explodes, when talking about love, with the words, “So, even though they think we’re crazy, we don’t care if they are right” that follow the thematic vibe of the album.
Odd – ‘Dancing Dress’ throws a dart into (at least) a double twenty board hit with a ‘Certain Surprise’, in its proximity to a pretty great John Martyn song from his brilliant One World album.
Odd (again!) – ‘Running From The Dawn’ swirls with sort of psych keyboards and gives a nice dark anchor weight to the album’s sometime soft folk-pop sound.
Now, it’s just an idea, but when talking about the virtue of Joshua’s immense popularly and referencing my friend Kilda’s “fruit tree” comment, I can just suggest that if our favorite guitar guy Richard Thompson would stop playing ‘Nobody’s Wedding’ and tuck a car (or, perhaps motorcycle) commercial under his belt, he could achieve the belated and well-earned acclaim Fairport biographer, Patrick Humphries, dubbed, “Thompsonmania”. And that would be weird, but rather nice in a Henry The Human Fly way.
That said (and returning to the album!), there are two versions of ‘Neverland’, given the ‘Version 2’ and ‘Version 1’ designations. The first in album track order, ‘2’, begins with an acoustic guitar but then dances with percussion and keyboards, and Maddie Poppe adds a lead vocal. And, without those dual voices there’s a slightly different feel to ‘Version 1’. The song gets a big production that, once again, explodes with a catchy chorus.
In total contrast is ‘Don’t Give Up On Me’, which is the simplistic soul of the album. The tune is a passionate confession of melted love. JR’s beloved sincerity endures through countless dance spins and worn vinyl groove
Though The World Will Tell Me So (Vol 1 & 2) ends on the wonderful upbeat and way too brief single, ‘Man Of The Year’. The positive pulse of the song, when juxtaposed with the lyrics filled with introspection, would have given an Al Stewart radio hit a run in its folk-pop chart race, circa, 1976.
Well, there’s not a Loch Ness Monster, clever cat, or owner’s manual found in these grooves. It’s just rather great folk with an occasional pop pulse music that finds that “fruit tree fame” from an artist — without the need to mention a celebrity wedding resume. And that’s always a wonderful thing to celebrate.
Artist’s website: https://www.joshuaradin.com/
‘Man Of The Year’ – live: