Those who dismissed Joshua Radin's debut may find themselves pleasantly surprised with his slump-free sophomore album Simple Times. From the first chorus of the pensive opener "One Of These Days" it's clear that he's blossomed as a songwriter. His subtlety and restraint build a delicate tension, luring listeners with clever lyrics, intricate phrasing, and sublime hooks. "I'd Rather Be With You" has a buoyant beachy groove that Jack Johnson would dig, and the country-folk tinged "You Got Growin' Up To Do" was built on the foundation of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," but some heaven-sent harmonies via Patty Griffin keep the song sounding fresher than wild mountain thyme. Along with her guest vocals, Simple Times boasts other invited inflections by Schuyler Fisk, and "Sky" gets poppy and uplifting with wispy wails from Feist-influenced MySpace sublebrity Meiko. It's easy to forgive Radin for dropping the phrase "Lisa Loeb glasses" on the biodiesel themed "Vegetable Car," because deep down we'd all love to make a friend like the protagonist of this melodic musing. Simple Times is the sound of a young man hitting his stride.