Awake came closer to putting me to sleep than any other album so far from
the 26-year-old tenor heart-throb Josh Groban.
Most artists go
through their early years trying to find “their sound”. However, Josh found his sound from day one,
and the more he experiments the more he loses what drew people to his music in
the first place.
self-titled, album from 2001, while rough, was heartfelt and showcased his
unusually rich and well-trained opera-quality tenor voice. 2003's Closer,
his second album, showed a great deal of maturity in his
song-writing, instrumental development, and vocal refinement, and was a
near-perfect blend of the sincerity and skill that first drew attention to him,
and the experience that comes with practice.
Unfortunately, his third album, Awake, released in 2006, features more
“pop”-influenced songs meant for top 50 radio play than his previous slow ballads,
foreign-language songs, and operatic style. This change has Groban spending more time in the high end of his vocal
range—even often in falsetto--and much of the deep, rich, resonating quality of
his voice is lost. The tracks “You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)” and “In her Eyes” are
particularly guilty of this. Even his
foreign-language songs on this album seem carefully constructed to be more “approachable”
to the average listener, and lose much of their depth.
Even the songwriting itself has, literally, a strong “top 50”
influence—for this album, Groban collaborated on music and lyrics with many
other artists including John Ondrasik of “Five for Fighting” and Dave
Matthews. While Awake is entirely adequate in execution, much of the sound that sets Groban
apart from any other young up-and-coming singer is missing.
Awake does have a few stand-out tracks,
particularly “February Song”, which is very classically
Groban. “Weeping”, an African anti-apartheid
piece performed with “Ladysmith Black Mambazo”, is
fantastic and uses Groban’s voice to its full potential.
Awake is by no means a bad album. . A listener
who had never heard anything by Groban before would be quite pleased. When it stands alone, it’s quite a decent
disk and enjoyable to listen to, and is still far better than the vast majority
of what receives widespread airplay these days Only when compared to his first
two albums does Awake sound a bit
lack-luster, and a little, well, tired.
2) You are Loved (Don't Give Up)
3) Un Dia Llegara
4) Febuary 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
11) Lullaby (with Ladysmith Black Mambazo)
12) Weeping (with Ladysmith Black Mambazo)
13) Machine (with Herbie Hancock)