Classical Crossover Pop Artist Marvels
The Daily Trojan
March 21, 2002
By Megan H. Chan
Music: Singer Josh Groban contemporizes the joys of Bach in self-titled debut

Lungs of steel. Grobanís self-titled review is notable for his mesmerizing voice.

Self-described "tenor in training" Josh Groban provides a wonderfully masterful and thoughtful musical bridge between the classical and pop music worlds with his self-titled debut album. Unlike the all-too-common pop packages of today, Groban delivers rejuvenating renditions of classical standards and other previously recorded songs.

Perhaps the greatest indication of truly great music lies in its stylistic versatility, a premise that Groban maintains by modernizing classics and bringing a classical flair to more modern ballads. From the inclusion of the traditional Easter offering of J.S. Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," to the more subdued pulsating beats of "Canto Alla Vita," Groban's vocal interpretations and producer David Foster's arrangements bring forth refreshingly innovative crossover treasures.

Groban's mightiest display of vocal talent is best showcased in the album's high point, "You're Still You," of "Ally McBeal" fame. The piece seems to speak to any broken heart, served up with an angelic violin line to start. Groban's exquisite phrasing, coupled with lines such as I look up to everything you are / In my eyes you do no wrong are sure to be the envy of any prince charming.

The second track, "Gira con me," presents the opportunity for Groban to prove that Andrea Bocelli is not the only operatic voice in the business. Perhaps Groban's interpretation of this modern Italian aria surpasses that of his elder in that the tone of his voice still resonates with both the traditional and modern elements of the piece.

Groban's duet with The Corrs on "Canto Alla Vita," creates a modern, discotheque-inspired Italian aria. Both Groban and The Corrs create perfect tonal harmony when singing the less technically challenging, but emotionally and rhythmically charged finished piece.

Centered around the lyric "The one I will become will catch me," "Let Me Fall," from the Cirque du Soleil soundtrack, clearly displays his operatic and balladeer skills. This is particularly evident when he begins with an unaccompanied vocal line. His devilishly charmed voice only amplifies the entrance of a simple and poignant guitar line that provides a somewhat dampened mood.

No contemporary variety album would be complete without a Latin-themed song. Groban does not disappoint, adding "Alejate" ("Go Away") into his album.

To the pleasure or discomfort of the classical music realm, Groban and Foster include a rendition of Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." The true lyrical master of the piece is Groban, although this piece is a rare instance in which his diction and completion of phrases seem a bit careless. As Groban's production team tries to incorporate classical music into his somewhat mainstream album, the overuse of synthesized sounds destroys the famously delicate Bach theme.

Groban's seductive voice and natural musicality will surely catapult him to greater artistic and career heights.