One thing is certain about Josh Groban — his fans are more than ready for this new offering. They are numerous and fiercely dedicated, especially for an artist who is relatively new to stardom. And although in his younger years he did a few things that didn’t get a lot of notice (including filling in as a rehearsal singer for Andrea Bocelli, a move that might have foreshadowed his future), he seemed to almost come from nowhere when his debut album, Josh Groban, appeared just five years ago. The album went double-platinum and he became a star, complete with his own PBS special, and he followed up in 2003 with his second album, Closer, which made it all the way to the top spot on the Billboard album charts.
Fans have eagerly but impatiently waited for his next album, and it’s now about to become a reality. Due to be released November 7th on Reprise Records, Awake is sure to hit the charts strong and make a big impact. The album won’t disappoint any of his many fans or potential new converts who might already be enjoying the sound of similar singers, such as Bocelli or Russell Watson. It’s skillfully put together with a rich and varied mix of songs, including some in English, Italian and Spanish. Says Groban, “I learned from touring that my fans are really open-minded, musical, intelligent people and I feel like they want to come on this new journey with me.”
Joining Groban on many of the songs (some of which he wrote) are talented artists ranging from Herbie Hancock to Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Other contributors include Dave Matthews, Glen Ballard, Eric Mouquet, John Ondrasik (Five for Fighting) Marius DeVries, David Foster, and Imogen Heap.
Every cut on the album is a good listen, but some deserve special notice. “You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up)” is also being released as a single, and this inspirational ballad is sure to get some attention. I liked “Un Dia Llegara”, which opens with an outstanding guitar flourish that sets the mood for Groban’s voice, and “February Song’ features Josh himself putting in some strong work on the keyboard. The two songs he performs with Ladysmith Black Mambazo were inspired by his visit to South Africa, where he met Nelson Mandela, and the second of the two, “Weeping”, was actually brought back by him after hearing it performed there.
I also enjoyed “Un Giorno Per Noi” (which is better known as the love theme from Romeo And Juliet) and the full, rich orchestral accompaniment enhanced my enjoyment of the song. The final tune, “Machine”, with Herbie Hancock, is also very nice, with a pounding rhythm that shows another side to Groban’s talent.
An outstanding new album from Josh Groban and well worth the wait for all his fans.
2. You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up)
3. Un Dia Llegara
4. February Song
5. L’Ultima Notte
6. So She Dances
7. In Her Eyes
8. Solo Por Ti
9. Now Or Never
10. Un Giorno Per Noi (from Romeo & Juliet)
11. Lullaby — w/ Ladysmith Black Mambazo
12. Weeping — w/ Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Vusi Mahlasela
13. Machine — w/ Herbie Hancock