Josh Groban

Josh Groban

143 / Warner Brothers Records, 2001

http://www.joshgroban.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/25/2004

Time for the reviewer to wear his heart on his sleeve: I've had a pretty crappy couple of days in terms of my personal life. It's at times like these when I turn away from the high-energy, high-decibel rock and roll that I love so much and find myself listening to music which, though beautiful, is enough for me to keep my depression going. Make no mistake, that's where I want to be at that moment.

It may be wrong to classify Josh Groban as a depressing vocalist, and I don't mean to slight him in any way. But I've found myself listening to his self-titled debut album non-stop in the last few days, and it truly is an amazing release. For a young man all of 20 years old, Groban has a set of pipes on him which rival those of Andrea Bocelli, albeit with not as much seasoning. But this disc suggests that Groban is most definitely a name to remember.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Josh Groban is unique in a few ways. First, Groban is not afraid to mix traditional classical vocals (performed in Italian) with adult-contemporary songs sung in English. (Groban is a Los Angeles native, making his mastery of the foreign-language numbers astounding.) Second, Groban performs songs which dare to pull at both the heart strings and the brain, creating songs which move the listener in many different ways. Only the hardest of hearts won't be melted by songs like "You're Still You," "To Where You Are" and "Home To Stay," three of the tracks I've been listening to incessantly.

Third, Groban dares to take standards from other artists' catalogues and try to make them his own. Admittedly, this is where Groban stumbles slightly. His rendition of "Vincent" is quite nice, even if I wish he had sung the entire third verse instead of coming in on the second part. Likewise, he does an admirable job on "The Prayer," a duet with Charlotte Church, but it fails to live up to the version by Bocelli and Celine Dion. Sorry, Josh, but while your effort is nice, Bocelli is a tough act to follow -- and while I'm no fan of Dion, she is superior on this song to Church.

In the end, though, Josh Groban remains a very pleasant, even deep at times, album that dares to bring contemporary classical into the homes of modern-day America. Whether it's tackling pieces from Cirque du Soleil ("Let Me Fall") or being part of a masterful rendition of Bach's "Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring" featuring violinist Lili Haydn, Groban creates a disc which is one step short of a masterpiece. Whether you like classical, opera, adult-contemporary or rock, Josh Groban is the kind of disc that will bridge all gaps between music fans and unite them under one umbrella.

Rating: A-

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© 2004 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of 143 / Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.