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Rhythm & Views

Joshua Radin

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Ably distinguishing himself from the proliferation of Joshuas and Joshes afflicting today's music, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Joshua Radin uses his huskily whispered vocals (often in harmony with Priscilla Hartranft), alluring melodies and accents of cello and piano to convincingly replicate sensitive '70s folk-rock à la Paul Simon, Tumbleweed Connection-era Elton John and the ubiquitously influential Nick Drake.

Apparently, the road to this CD, Radin's major-label debut, has been paved with the inclusion of his songs on TV shows such as Scrubs and Grey's Anatomy, and the film The Last Kiss, giving his music easy access into the demographic of hip-thinking, pop-culture-savvy young adults with considerable disposable income.

As prepackaged as Radin might seem, his gentle songs are the real deal and capable of nursing melancholy moods with artful ease. Lyrics such as "I don't know what to do/ My heart is blistering" are devastating when he delivers them.

The stripped-down chamber-pop arrangements are gorgeous, too, not unlike those of Duncan Sheik. Radin, in fact, sounds as if he could be Sheik's less-jaded younger brother, especially on his poetry-smitten "These Photographs," during which he earnestly compares images of his lover with Sylvia Plath, Simone de Beauvoir, Nina Simone and Mary Cassatt. And when Hartranft plays Garfunkel to Radin's Simon, creating elegant two-part harmonies, it's pretty dreamy.

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