Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sweeping eggshells still at 3 AM

I've focused on fun uptempo songs (normally my true love) for the past few days, so please forgive me as I temporarily detour into music that's far from poppy and far from uptempo: Josh Groban's latest album, Awake. It's too early for me to judge the album as a whole (it was just released this past Tuesday), so this will only be a couple of songs that have jumped out at me. Josh's songs don't ever seem to be about hooks, or fun, so it may be somewhat surprising that I like them. I think the key with him may be acknowledging that a good portion of his songs is about atmosphere. There's also something about his voice--how you rise and fall with it--and the instrumentation of his songs that allows him to get away with could-be-trite lyrics like those of "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)." It also feels like there's a hint of mystery underlying many of his songs. You could argue that the purpose of his music--which appropriates some elements of classical music and some elements of pop--is to shamelessly exploit a certain demographic, and I don't tend to listen to all the songs on his albums (I still haven't really gotten around to listening to Closer), but when he (or his producers) gets it right, he can do some really great songs.

Now Or Never--this is the song that's jumped out at me the most (though admittedly I haven't listened to most of the non-English tracks yet). As I mentioned before, I feel like many of Josh's song have an aura of mystery, and sometimes a surprising darkness, about them--this is one of those. Easily the best part of this song occurs about two-thirds in, where Josh sings "now or never" and a series of Joshes answer back in round, overlapping and harmonizing--it's just gorgeous; even if the rest of the song wasn't that good (and it is good), it would be worth listening through to get to that part.

Awake--I almost posted album opener "Mai," a strong, dramatic track, instead, but a few factors swayed me to include this song instead. One is that the normal physical album doesn't actually include it, and some Internet download sites don't even have it, which I think is a shame. More importantly, though, I wanted a slightly more minimal, less effects-driven song. The huge drama of some songs Josh does works really well, but I also wanted to show that, even with the focus very much on his voice in a comparatively simpler song, his music can still work. Of course, an album full of songs like this might get dull, but, used in the proper proportion, they help ground Josh's music, providing the sweet but solid base for songs like "Now Or Never" or "Mai" to contrast with. "Now Or Never" is probably the stronger song, but if you just want something soothing, "Awake" is more up your alley.

To buy Josh Groban's third album, Awake (the version with two bonus tracks, "Awake" and "Verita"), go here (physical) or here (digital). If you're just starting with him, though, I'd recommend getting his debut album, Josh Groban, first--you can buy it here (physical) or here (digital). The first song, "Alla Luce Dal Sole," is amazing.

Next up: I think "Mai" may make an appearance here at some point, but up next will probably be a very famous Puerto Rican singer.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for a nice review of this CD. Awake actually makes me cry. I hope you can get to one of his concerts. They are real treats.

J'ason D'luv said...

This has nothing to do with Josh Groban, but have you still not received your McFly CD? You know, sometimes I'll order stuff from Amazon UK or HMV, and it'll ship on a Saturday before its Monday release date, and I'll have it by Wednesday -- and then other times it'll take a week and a half to get here. WHAT is up with that?

Paul said...

i was also just about to ask if McFly had arrived yet? How annoying for you if not - i remember when Debz Gibson released a fansite only demos cd last year and everyone in American had it and was raving about it on the forum within days! i had to wait 3 (3!!) weeks so was all bitter. And twisted. And hate world must seek revenge on all. But then it came and i was happy even though you could kinda tell why they had never been released before. True story!

Ps - Josh Groban is growing on me, but only in certain songs sort of way - not whole albums yet...

Poster Girl said...

I would love to see him sing live--in fact, if I'd been a little older, I probably would have been able to! I really like "Now or Never" and "Don't Give Up" at the moment--he just sings them so beautifully!

Not yet, J'ason! I really don't understand can I order something from Sweden and have it get here multiple days before something from the UK? I really wish they would always do that "ship before so it arrives on or near the day of release" thing all the time, too.

It is sort of frustrating--that's a week and a half now I could have been listening to their songs. At least I haven't had to wait three weeks (!!!) yet, though! Sigh...I hope it's worth it ;)

KulPop said...

Interesting that 'Now Or Never' by Josh Groban jumped out at you from his new cd, I believe it is co-written and produced by the amazing Imogen Heap.

I have an exclusive remix of Headlock by her available for download at my blog if anyone is interested.



Poster Girl said...

You're right! I hadn't noticed, but I just checked in the booklet, and it is co-written by her! That's actually pretty neat...thanks for letting me know! I'll definitely go check out that remix!