Radin between mainstream lines

by James Hendicott
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Joshua Radin is one of those singers that a lot of people know without realising they do.

A sentimental, storytelling singer-songwriter known for his living-room-like stage setup and soulful themes, Radin’s found a niche in TV music: the background to heartfelt scenes in medical dramas ranging from House to Grey’s Anatomy, and summer teen outings such as One Tree Hill.

The Cleveland, Ohio native’s biggest album came in 2008. Smash hit second LP, Simple Times, sold close to half a million copies, and he’s been living on the same simple premise ever since.

“All my songs are pretty much journal entries set to music,” Radin tells us. “I think that’s why people respond to them – because if you’re making yourself vulnerable as a writer, you connect to more human beings.

“I pretty much listen to my dad’s old vinyl collection. A lot of Beatles, Paul Simon, Sam Cooke, Van Morrison. My style hasn’t really changed so much over the years. I am who I am; I don’t have plans to change.”

The TV show appearances have drawn in much of Radin’s audience, and come almost out of the blue, perhaps attracted by the emotional and self-examining content of his music.
This pours out in tracks such as I’d Rather Be With You, the video for which was directed by Scrubs star Zach Braff, or the Sunday-morning happy buzz of album tracks such as Friend Like You.

“The TV stuff comes about when I release an album and then get contacted by someone who wants to use a song in something,” Radin explains.
“It’s great exposure for someone like me who is completely independent, because I don’t have the label machine pushing my songs on to the radio.”
The independent aspect of what Radin does has really kicked on in recent years, with his major label years long in the past.

He produced his own music on latest album, The Fall, released in early 2017.
“I really found the experience rewarding. I’m not sure about the next album though. I’m still thinking about how to produce it,” he says, of working alone for the first time.
“I’m in the thick of it now, with regards to the writing process. So it’s difficult to say how it will turn out at this point.”

Unsurprisingly, the mid-westerner most comfortable with a guitar looped over his shoulder relates heavily to the Irish music scene he first encountered touring here in the mid noughties, when Dublin was incredibly man-with-guitar-heavy, producing some of the best acoustic guitar albums of the era.

“I’m sure some Guinness will be imbibed in Dublin on night one,” he jokes. “I really do feel the tradition in Ireland and always have.
“Ireland was one of the first countries outside the US to give me a shot and play some tunes of mine on the radio years ago. So I’ll always appreciate the place and return for as long as you’ll have me.

“The highs and lows of musical life can take their toll, but usually I just care about playing in a room whereby everyone is respectful and listening. I just hope to be able to continue to do what I love without thinking about the business side of music.

“To keep writing and playing songs for people all over the world. To stay curious. When you lose your curious nature, your artistry dies a quick death.”
Joshua Radin and William Fitzsimmons play a double headline show at Whelan’s on September 30. Tickets are on sale now for €25.

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