As a pop music writer, it is exciting to watch an artist grow and develop with each successive album. Awake is Josh Groban's third studio collection, and he has evolved in a positive direction with each release. This time he holds on to the sound that has won him millions of fans while recording tracks that push further into the pop mainstream challenging him to develop as an interpretive vocalist.
The result is a diverse, warm, inviting, and exciting set for listening.
The Beauty of a Well-Trained Voice
When singing a pop song, Josh Groban exhibits one of the most impressive, technically skilled voices in all of pop music. On an inspiring song like "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)," there is a majesty that sweeps the listener up in pure emotion. In quieter moments, such as the gentle waltz "So She Dances," Josh Groban's technical accuracy eliminates any concern over nailing the appropriate note. The unfortunate down side is that a powerful, technically skilled voice does not automatically translate to one that is effective at interpreting a song and conveying the emotions in the words and sound. Groban makes progress here, but it is an area ripe for future development.
Diversity In the Music
For his first two albums, Josh Groban relied primarily on David Foster for production. On Awake he branches out working with a variety of producers and songwriters. The result is a diverse collection of music that keeps the listener involved and curious throughout the entire program.
In fact, the closing three tracks, two of which are collaborations with South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and one a borderline funk exploration with Herbie Hancock, close out Awake in stunning fashion pointing in possible directions for even more fruitful exploration.
Top Tracks on 'Awake'
- You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)
- So She Dances
- Un Giorno Per Noi (from 'Romeo and Juliet')
Josh Groban Continues to Mature as an Artist
Awake, with ventures into new musical territories, songwriting work from Josh Groban himself, and an increasing drift toward mainstream pop, is a document of the continued maturation of a highly talented young artist. If you are already a fan of Josh Groban, you need this album in your collection. If you have not yet discovered the magic of his voice, take a chance, and I think you will like what you hear.