Striking melodies driven by passion-soaked guitar strings are almost everywhere we look in the new EP though the world will tell me so, vol. 2, and as much as I want to credit Joshua Radin’s vocal as the centerpiece of this record, the truth is much more complicated than that. In his first few albums, Radin was rather hesitant to embrace big arrangements and a multilayered sound, drawing the spotlight more with his melodic sensibilities than his technical skill.

The opposite is true of though the world will tell me so, vol. 2; in songs like “Man of the Year” and “Neverland – version two,” he’s experimenting with everything from aesthetics to complicated rhythms built atop his verses rather than next to them. He’s careful to avoid an over-the-top progressiveness that has sunk some of his closest contemporaries in recent years, with the surreal “Over the City” and “Don’t Give Up on Me” being the only truly cerebral content on this disc, but I get the idea he doesn’t want to be stuck in a box with this release. There are a lot of surreal concepts here, and although it isn’t a straight folk record in terms of identity, it could be said that this singer/songwriter seems intent on connecting with deeper roots as much as he is a new chapter for his music. 

I think “Don’t Give Up on Me” is one of the most challenging performances Radin has taken on as a vocalist, and the way he presses himself to create a more intimate harmony than the setting would typically allow for is stunning by itself. He doesn’t have a lot of hesitation in any of these tracks, and “This One’s For” highlights his boldness on an additional level. There’s a case to be made that he’s outgrowing the alternative branding, and I don’t think you can listen to a song like “Over the City” without hearing the folk element he’s starting to grow closer to. I hear plenty of the retro indie singer/songwriter influence in “This One’s For” and even “Neverland – version one,” but it’s coupled with a slice of pastoral warmth that tethers his sound more to something distant than it does anything in the pure pop realm. 

The bottom line here is pretty simple – not only is though the world will tell me so, vol. 2 a more mature effort than Joshua Radin’s previous works, it’s also one that seems to have come from a more motivated place than I was initially anticipating. There’s a driving feel to every one of these compositions, from the balladry to the revving folk-rock, and when matched up with Radin’s poetic abilities, the music sounds immersive as well as reflective. It’s clear to me that he wanted to make a personal record, but this isn’t so guarded that we aren’t able to relate to his perspective in the lyrics. Being a credible indie musician means being capable of striking a chord with people, and in though the world will tell me so, vol. 2, this singer/songwriter does as much while proclaiming a catharsis that is very exciting to hear from anyone in the underground at the moment. 

Garth Thomas