Saying goodbye to parts of life and welcoming the start of new chapters.
Though his name may not be that familiar to UK audiences, Josh Radnor is a successful American actor and producer who won an Emmy for his role as Ted Mosby in the sitcom ‘How I Met Your Mother’. Additionally, he has recorded with Australian musician Ben Lee and has released a solo EP, and ‘Eulogy: Volume 1’ is his debut solo album which will comprise 2 volumes. Josh Radnor’s interest in pursuing a parallel career as a singer-songwriter is not simply an actor’s vanity project as he is able to channel the influence of Joni Mitchell, Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, and other similar songwriters at the folk end of the americana spectrum, into his own music. You have to assume that being a successful actor makes it easier to open the studio doors in Nashville where the album was recorded, engineered and produced by Jeremiah Dunlap, Cory Quintard, and Kyle Cox. Josh Radnor’s songs are based on his personal experience, particularly a recent breakup and were mainly written during the pandemic. They cover the range of human emotions and if there is a theme it is the ending of certain aspects of a person’s life, and the start of new chapters. it could be that his actor experience has helped him to get the best out of his. natural voice which is particularly suited to the material.
Opening track ‘Red’ is Josh Radnor’s take on adolescence, and he seems to enjoy being an angry young man despite being middle-aged. Radnor has trouble sleeping because of what is going on in his head as he implores the ‘Pretty Angel’ to sing him to sleep, which he manages to do just as the sun is rising. The mood lightens as Radnor sings a love song to a person and a place, ‘New York City’, and Cory Quintard helps out on the vocals. Audrey Assad helps Radnor sleep alone as he thinks of a past love who may be nearby on ‘You Can Sleep Alone Tonight’. Radnor is sure of his own commitment on ‘I Will Wait For You’ but the object of his attention isn’t quite so certain. While not necessarily religious, ‘Real Life’ looks to the mystical to escape the challenges of daily life and the challenges of the world. Piano dominates ‘Schedules’ which uses days of the week to show that Radnor is coming to the end of a relationship where he is afraid to leave his love, but at the same time, frightened to stay. A dobro ups the country content of ‘Heaven Knows’ as Radnor asks for patience as he starts a relationship. The need to move on from old lives is explored in ‘The Darkest Hour’ and it ends on a hopeful message of a new start to life. The singer may be in love and very happy with his life but he can’t help wondering ‘What If’ as he realises things don’t always last. ‘Learning’ was written with Kyle Cox and ponders the need for men to learn how to deal with the supposed weaker emotions of loneliness, fear and anxiety, ‘Eulogy: Volume 1’ ends with Josh Radnor looking at the ageing experience as his body reminds his brain that he is no longer the youthful teenage he is still in his head on ‘Joshua 45, 46’.
While Joshua Radnor does not have a history of being an americana or country artist, his songs on ‘Eulogy: Volume 1’ fit the americana folk genre and recording them in Nashville must certainly have helped. ‘Eulogy: Volume 2’ will contain a further eleven songs recorded at the same sessions but with not quite as much studio polish and more of an acoustic feel than those on ‘Volume 1’. Nobody can tell at this stage if Josh Radnor will continue in the americana genre in the future, but if you are drawn to lyrics that explore the sadder parts of life but that are also ultimately hopeful with a polished but appropriate backing, and sung with feeling then ‘Eulogy: Volume 1’ may surprise you.