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Music Review: Josh Groban – Awake

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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 7 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.

1. Mai
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

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About Big Geez

  • Good blog…but man…I can’t believe “In Her Eyes” didn’t get mentioned. Or “Now or Never.” LOVE those songs…


  • Yeah, the songs you mention were good too – like I said in the article, every song on the album is a good listen.

    Thanks for the comment – glad you enjoyed the review.

  • Congrats! This article has been forwarded to the Advance.net websites.

  • Mary Forman

    Josh is the best young singer of the time, he has a amazing voice, brillant, he is a gifted artist, thank you Josh, Mary Forman

  • Great blog, his album is amazing, and I love his work. I am an aspiring singer, and hope to be able to work with amazing people as he has, to produce great music. I would love for anyone to come view my page at myspace.com, I have my music up, along with a few covers. take care,


  • david

    AWAKE sounds great, all the way around! well done Josh and a great group of talent behind the scenes as well…see you on tour JG

  • Michael Gabriel

    I’m a dedicated Groban fan but Awake is his weakest album to date. His voice quality is as rich and texured as ever but the album suffers from weak songwriting. There is not one outstanding cut on the disc. A lot of the melodies and especially some of the lyrics are derivative and amateurish. I hope Josh does not follow the same path as another super talented vocalist: k.d. Lang – recording mediocre material that does not match their amazing God given voices.

  • disappointed fan

    I have to say that I was tremendously disappointed in Josh’s latest album. He still has a great voice, but it seems he has discovered his falsetto, and uses it too much throughout the album. At other times, he seems to be reaching for his top notes, which is something that was not evident in his earlier albums. The music itself is just plain average, and does nothing to showcase his talent. There is not a single hit on the entire album. The mood of this album is completely depressed. I know that artists must share their innermost soul, to feel that they are being true to themselves, but, I would prefer that he sing music that is more uplifting, like his earlier albums. After listening to “Awake” you just want to slit your wrists and end it all!!

  • amy G

    Great album!!!! =)

  • kevin

    I am trying to to find the name of the violinist that is on his awake tour… Can anyone help???


  • Alice

    Her name is Lucia Micarelli and you can google her to find out more. I think she has a myspace page as well

  • Falcon

    I am a BIG Josh Groban fan but AWAKE was a HUGE disappointment. None of the melodies are stand-out and the lyrics is a bunch of derivative, schmaltzy kitch! What a perfect waste of a beautiful voice. I hope he takes better care with his future song selections.

  • Vera

    I had huge expectations from this album, but I too find it a disappointing album. Maybe Josh wanted to record something a little more modern and poplike compared to his previous recordings, but these songs certainly don’t do any credit to his beautiful voice. He is not using it to the best of his abilities.

  • TMC

    Well, I am not a big fan of Josh Groban; however, I feel that this album is a stepping stone into something different for him as a musical professional. I think change is the major factor here…he can be more than classically oriented in his musical style. He does not need to limit himself to a specific genre…I think that would be mediocre and not allow for different professional experience and growth. He is in the process of experimenting; expect trial and error here…that is a part of the process. He had the support of great musical artists and has a wonderful professional team behind him…if they felt the album, songs or words would not do him justice or promote his vocal ability, this album would not have come to light. He shouldn’t remain limited to just what we expect or desire from his musical talent…he should explore and try out what is best for him as both a person and professional. That is absolutely all that matters when it comes to the album AWAKE. I believe that is why it is named AWAKE, because it awakens something new, different and challenging in the way of musical presentation and beauty.

  • JMR

    ‘Awake’ is my favorite album that’s been released so far, though ‘Closer’ and ‘Josh Groban’ are excellent also. I disagree that he used too much falsetto. He uses it tastefully and he rarely cracks a note. This album is definitely a stepping stone; he collaborated with many different artists, and did what many artists have never done before. Just go to a concert- and you will experience what keeps fans coming back for more.

  • Marilyn

    I’m a huge Josh Groban fan (grobanite) I think Awake was the best of the three, even tho I love all his cd’s. I don’t think I’ve ever had a cd that I loved every single track on it, but I do on Awake! His voice is richer and more mature on this cd…and I LOVE the falsetto! I’ve been to 6 concerts on this tour…they never get old..he just keep getting better and better!!

  • mary quinlan

    I .Josh have to say I think Josh gets better with each album.His albums have grown with him . Awake is fantastic as have the other.He was young when he released his first so we have to expect a little more maturity with each new album

  • Aubrey

    Love love love Josh Groban, and “Awake” is exceptionally good. “So She Dances” is like an escape, and though I never thought I could have a favorite Josh Groban song, I was corrected by “L’Ultima Notte”. “Lullaby” is so going to be just that for my own child, and “Un Giorno Per Noi” conveys such emotion. “In Her Eyes” and “February Song” most certainly also deserve mention.

  • Aubrey

    Oh, and seeing him in concert is absolutely amazing.

  • necchi

    Josh is so versatile in delivering justice to any song. I can play his CDs and DVDs all day long and never get tired hearing his voice. Such a gifted talent the world love and adore. Thank God for Josh Groban.You are a great
    singer and wonderful person.

  • Janet K. Brennan

    Josh Groban
    Reviewed by Janet K. Brennan

    To say that this concert held in the St Pete’s Time Forum, Tampa on the 29 of October was an “Affair to Remember” is putting it lightly. The night was rainy, the hospitality warm and the crowd an eclectic mixture of all ages with one thing in common, love for Josh Groban’s music and his easy and humble style of performance which has grown to sincere professionalism over the years. This young man is at his best on stage and has a unique and winning way of reaching out to his audience in an intimate and classic style. With a voice that allows one’s soul to ascend to the heavens, Josh is always eager to please, and please he certainly does!
    Groban hit the deck running from the back of the theater to an island stage which indeed seemed to be floating above the audience and was situated mid theater. There he performed three songs beginning with the gorgeous “You Are Loved” followed by “February Song”. Also done mid theater was his song ”The Wandering Kind”, which Groban actually wrote at the age of 12. Proceeding to front stage, up the steps he ran, grabbed a microphone and began singing in a show that lasted more than two hours. Beautiful piano solos included his extraordinary tribute to his new home in New York City, “The Bells of New York City”. This piece was performed with the back drop of the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as brick walls and stone streets which remained behind Josh throughout the entire concert. A rousing rendition of the Herbie Hancock “Machine” got the crowd on their feet as Josh jived and set the hearts of all of his fans on edge and me wondering how much of this song was the true life of so many successful performers in the world today.
    Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of watching a Josh Groban concert is familiar with his musical director, Tarigh Akoni, genius on the classical guitar and top of the line showman in his own right. (btw, loved the little dance done by Tarigh and bassist, Andre Manga. They were clearly having fun!) Selected from his larger orchestra were Tim Crow on percussions, Mark Stevens, funky keyboard, Gary Novak and Andre Manga, as well as a combination of 4 string instruments and French horns which added a rich and sad addition to Josh’s piano and voice in his touching “”War at Home,” as well as “”Broken Vow,” where the resonating French horn was played directly stage right and on top of the front row.
    Genius was the fact that Josh Groban incorporated people of all ages in his concert show. He introduced a nine year old little girl, spoke with her, a single woman, and a couple who had been married for over fifty years and brought them all up on stage for wine and milk. Everyone in this particular scenario was perfectly at home as if they were sitting in Josh’s living room enjoying a great concert while we all sat, mouths open and giggling at the entire scenario.
    I loved this concert, every single moment of it. Although Groban was fresh off a European Tour, he was pitch perfect and fun! It is always a pleasure for me to review this musical genius, and my favorite song? Well, “Per Te” of course.

    Janet K. Brennan