Review: Joshua Radin Creates an Illuminating Impression on ‘The Ghost and the Wall’

4 out of 5 Stars
Joshua Radin | The Ghost and the Wall | (Netwerk)

Joshua Radin may be America’s best-kept secret, and as cliché as that statement might sound, the fact remains that it’s long past time Radin received the following he so decidedly deserves. Eight albums in, he’s somehow managed to elude wider recognition, even while maintaining the alluring approach he’s sustained since early on. 

Part of the reason might lie in Radin’s unassuming introspection. His hushed vocals and understated melodies suggest a somewhat tenuous delivery, but a closer listen finds his tender trappings fully vested in emotive expression that tugs at the heartstrings, both poetically and profoundly. Not that Radin hasn’t made a move towards the mainstream; his songs have been frequently heard on such prime time TV series as Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy, American Idol, One Tree Hill, House, and other shows of significant standing, providing him with dozens of placements over the course of his career. Yet, given his generally subtle stance, he’s easy to overlook.  

As a result, The Ghost and the Wall may not make much of a difference when it comes to expanding his audience. That’s a shame because it does, in fact, create an illuminating impression that’s as haunting as the title implies. Songs such as “Fewer Ghosts,” “Next To Me” and “Till the Morning” cast a nocturnal spell over the proceedings, courtesy of a shimmering and solitary sound. 

So many things I wish I’d said, Radin whispers in “Goodbye,” the album opener, and indeed, that combination of romance and remorse lingers throughout the effort overall. “Better Life” and “You’re My Home” provide the only uptick in energy, imbuing optimism into an otherwise downcast disposition. The supple piano ballad “I’ll Be Your Friend” wouldn’t sound out of place in a setlist dominated by Simon and Garfunkel or Leonard Cohen. So too, “Hey You” boasts an engaging refrain that’s difficult to ignore. 

Pay it rapt attention. A more beautiful set of ballads would be hard to come by. 

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