Album Review: Joshua Radin, “Simple Times” (2008)

One of my favourite TV shows is Scrubs, and though I mainly love the show for its comedy, I’ve also been a fan of a lot of the music used in the soundtracks.  The show’s star, Zach Braff, has had a lot of input on the musical selections, and back in 2004, he passed along a song by one of his friends to the show’s producer.  The track, “Winter” by Joshua Radin, was used in the show and brought prominence to Radin’s music.  Throughout the years, several of Radin’s songs were used on Scrubs, and through hearing them on the show, I eventually decided to buy Radin’s sophomore album, Simple Times.

Simple Times is a collection of acoustic folk rock/pop music, simply composed of Radin’s vocals and his guitar.  Though none of the songs here will likely blow you away, the album is still a nice disc of chill music, perfect for when you need to unwind.

The album begins with an acoustic guitar number, One Of Those Days.  Radin’s vocals are smooth and inviting, and though he never does anything incredibly impressive vocally, he’s still extremely pleasant to listen to.  This track is no exception- his vocals and the upbeat guitar melody make for a nice introduction to the album.

The strumming is a bit faster on I’d Rather Be With You, a cheerful, mid-tempo number with an incredibly catchy chorus (“I need to bold/Need to jump in the cold water/Need to grow older with a girl like you”).  The accessible, pop-sound makes the track an easy pick for radio, and was the album’s lead single.   Sky is probably the most radio-friendly song on the album, again, due to it’s memorable, sing-a-long chorus (“But this is the way I need to wake/I’ll wake to you, and you never left me/All that I dreamt had been untrue/Open my eyes I see sky”).  Singer-songwriter, Meiko, joins in during the second verse, and her airy vocals provide a nice contrast.

One of my favourite songs on the album is the mid-tempo ballad, Friend Like You.  The heartfelt lyrics (“When I had no one to call/All the world had shut me down/I showed up at your door so blue/Thank God I had a friend like you”) verge on being a bit too sugary, but I do like the sentiment behind them and they always make me think of some of my closest friends. Brand New Day is probably my second-favourite song on the album, again, because of the lyrics.  The motivational theme always cheers me up when I’m feeling down (“It’s a brand new day/The sun is shining/It’s a brand new day/For the first time in such a long long time/I know, I’ll be okay”), the appropriately sunny melody is also nice, and I can rarely listen to this song without feeling better by the time it ends.   Vegetable Car is a cute song, describing Radin’s quirky crush (“She drives a vegetable car/Diesel Mercedes green 2-door/I barely know who you are/Lisa Loeb glasses, I’d sure like to ask you to stay”).  Radin’s soft vocals and the breezy tune are a nice combination and the song is another that never fails to make me smile.

Joshua Radin (

The rest of the album is less impressive, however.  Radin’s silvery vocals, though nice, never go much of anywhere, and neither do his standard mid-tempo guitar melodies.  They Bring Me To You is a smooth duet with rock singer, Erin McCarley, and though she and Radin definitely sound nice together, the track is pretty forgettable overall.  Free Of Me is actually the only song on the album with a unique chord progression, but even that doesn’t save it from being boring.  We Are Okay is an upbeat track with what sounds like maracas in the background, but the repetitive chorus becomes annoying about halfway into the song.  Folk musician, Patty Griffin, duets with Radin on You Got Growin’ Up To Do.   Though the ballad doesn’t stray from the same musical format explored on the rest of the album, the lyrics do stand out a bit more (“Sometimes you run and hide/Your foolish pride’s/What keeps me from/Giving you more/So the best thing I can give to you/Is for me to go/Leave you alone/Cause you got growing up to do”).

The disc comes to a close with another subdued ballad, No Envy, No Fear.  Though the quiet melody isn’t breathtaking, the calming sound is still nice and relaxing- the kind of music to listen to on the drive home from a long day of work.  Radin’s dulcet tone and smooth guitar set the mood perfectly, ending the album on a nice note.

At a little over 30 minutes long, Simple Times is a short, but sweet album.  Joshua Radin‘s music probably won’t change your life, or even leave too big of an impression on you after the album ends, but he’s still good at making enjoyable acoustic music, with simple melodies and lyrics.

Rating: 3_stars.svg

Track List
1. One of Those Days
2. I’d Rather Be With You
3. Sky (feat. Meiko)
4. Friend Like You
5. Brand New Day
6. They Bring Me to You (feat. Erin McCarley)
7. Vegetable
8. Free of Me
9. You Got Growin’ Up To Do (feat. Patty Griffin)
10. No Envy, No Fear

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAJfhZamFmo]
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