Review - Pop: Joshua Radin at the Academy, Dublin
Self-effacing guys with apple-pie grins and interesting head-wear have been a hot trend in pop for some time. Ben Howard – a singer you have likely never heard of – headlined Longitude; Paulo Nutini’s march on our sensibilities feels unstoppable (incredibly, the former chip-shop employee with a sub-Rod Stewart rasp is playing arenas). Then there is Joshua Radin, a homespun fellow touting a big broken heart and the most ridiculous hat this side of Pharrell.
Odds are you are unfamiliar with his sappy, soppy oeuvre – unless, that is, you are part of his vast and cheerfully rabid fanbase. An all-or-nothing sort of artist, Radin may be firmly beneath the radar – nonetheless to devotees he’s the best thing to ever happen to simpering acoustic pop.
Like a one-man version of professionally weepy Dubliners Kodaline, his music asks you to sit still, dab your eyes, contemplate the many ways a heartfelt dude can be betrayed in love (turns out there are quite a few).
Radin has a new album on the way. Or at least he thinks he has – actually it’s too early to go into details. Still at the planning stage, he’s road-testing unfinished songs with a three date tour: Stockholm, Dublin, London. Clearly he’s excited about playing London the following night – during an early piece of banter he confuses the city’s name for that of Dublin, prompting hoots of disdain from the large attendance (causing him to stumble over an anecdote involving Guinness, Jameson and his love for ‘the Irish’).
It is the only moment a foot is put wrong. Blessed with lazy charm of the can’t-be-faked variety – more than song-writing or hat-wearing, it might be his outstanding quality – Radin sugar-coats the new compositions with the promise that fan-beloved material is to
follow. To sweeten the deal he even tosses in several rarities, including a cover of Yazoo’s ‘Only You’ so gloopy it makes real life briefly feel like a Grey’s Anatomy closing montage.
As even a passing familiarity with his lyrics reveals, Radin’s previous albums were largely inspired by a painful break-up (he trusted, was betrayed, spent a decade picking himself up off the floor). However, now he’s in love and ready to marry – in theory the new stuff ought to be uplifting and carefree. And yet, as a songwriter he can’t bring himself to accept the sweet hand life has dealt.
An untitled opening ditty is ostensibly celebratory but with a downcast melody that seems subconsciously braced for troubles ahead; though ‘One and Only’ showcases his pretty voice, the carpet is yanked from beneath the upbeat sentiments by woebegone vocals and mournful strumming. If this is what a happy Radin sounds like, one shudders to imagine him on a bad day.