Album Review: Radnor and Lee – Self-titled Album

Radnor and Lee are an indie folk musical duo made up of Josh Radnor, an American actor, filmmaker, author and musician, probably most well known for playing Ted Mosby on CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother and Ben Lee, an Australian indie pop musician and actor, probably most well known for being a member of Sydney based alternative rock outfit Noise Addict, and his subsequent solo career, and for being the protagonist in the 2003 movie, The Rage in Placid Lake. Today, I’ll be reviewing their debut self-titled album, which was released on the 10th November 2017.

‘Be Like The Being’ really shows off Radnor’s vocals, I already knew from years of HIMYM rewatches that he had a pleasant voice, and hearing his soft, warm and heartfelt vocals really ties this song together. I was unfamiliar with Ben Lee before setting out to check out Radnor and Lee, and he adds a lot to this performance, the strong vocal harmonies and the instrumental additions, creating a busy track that gains momentum as the track progresses. It’s got a really nice energy to it and you just get caught up in the frenzied instrumental backing, and the overall melody. Also I’m always partial to a little bit of violin, so thumbs up for that too.

‘Doorstep’ slows things down just a touch, softer, with melodic acoustic guitars blended throughout, and while it’s really hard not to hear Ted Mosby singing, I love Radnor’s voice, it’s so mellow and sweet, and it has a bucolic quality that’s really refreshing. I feel you could describe these songs as relatively simple, they thus far have a consistent melody developed early on and continued and built upon throughout but despite that they possess a subtle complexity, a true work of passion and love for both artists. 

‘Hello My Beloved’ opens with striking piano chords, which slowly build up, as Radnor’s vocals flow in, and as an undercurrent Lee’s voice, both working and playing against one another and the melody, the strings infusing in, creating a richer melody for Radnor’s bittersweet performance. I loved the swells in this one, the higher moments, they are incorporated into the whole song really well, and yet elevate what was already a good song into a great song.

‘One Foot In Front Of The Other’ changes things up a little, with an uptempo guitar melody, and Lee taking the floor. I really like his voice, and it was during this track that I truly noticed how well their voices compliment one another. Perhaps I’m a little emotional as we are fast approaching the anniversary of my Dad’s passing but something about this one really resonated with me, and I’m not ashamed to say I got a little bit emotional. 

‘It’s Yours Once You Give It Away’ has some of my favourite vocal harmonies on the album, I’ve found that I am drawn to the sadder and slower songs, and this one has that soft, melancholic energy that always works for me. I just really liked the melody in this one, it’s a relatively simple melody and yet it’s really poignant, with delicate, swelling chords intermixed throughout the core tune. It’s also in this one that I realise even more the statement I made above about Radnor and Lee having incredibly complimentary vocal styles. 

‘Still Though We Should Dance (ft. Sam Shelton)’ picks things back up again, a higher tempo number, guitars and violins blended throughout to create a really rich and high energy number. The highlight of this was Sam Shelton’s vocals as she injected a little bit of a different vibe to the song, also again I just adore the extra strings layered throughout the track. 

‘Get Back To Nature’ starts us off with a nice and slow, gentle acoustic guitar and Lee’s voice, a perfect combo, and again the gorgeous violin, that just adds vibrancy to the whole track. It’s an easy going and melodic number that just sort of captures you and keeps you until the end. We are closing in on the end of the album, just a few tracks left, and as we reach this point, I have to say there is not a weak moment on the album so far. 

‘Early In The Morning’ kicks things back up again, a percussive beat and up tempo guitar really build a nice energy and momentum, it’s one of the shorter tracks but it’s also a really strong entry that is punchy and has a really nice vibe to it. 

‘All Shall Be Well’ is a hopeful little tune, a soft acoustic guitar is the lead instrument, but the strength of this track is easily the vocals of Radnor and Lee, both invite the perfect balance of melody and emotion that really sells this track. I think this and ‘One Foot In Front Of The Other’ are my favourites on the album, both are just so pure and poignant. I also want to add that while he’s been strong throughout, this has some of my favourite vocal contributions from Lee. 

‘Falling Upwards’ has a soothing, guitar infused melody that blends perfectly with Radnor’s vocals, it’s a beautiful melody, with a earnestness to it that really works for the track. I sometimes struggle to define what I really like in a song, because doing this job I hear a whole lot of different music, and I love being able to hear so many different songs, but this is fundamentally a good song, I know that for sure. 

‘Wider Spaces’ is a truly beautiful conclusion to what has been a spectacular album, deep and melodic and just engaging, the vocals match up with the heartfelt instrumental backing, to create a song that tugs on the heart strings just one last time before we close up. I love that this one has just a delicate, harmonious build, but it never gets too heavy and fast paced, instead it just fills up the room with an ambient grace that is just ideal.

So that’s what I thought of Radnor and Lee’s single ‘Be Like the Being’ and if you want to check that out for yourself then head on over to Spotify. While you’re at it, make sure and support the band by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also keep up to date with Josh Radnor by following him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and do the same for Ben Lee by following him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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