Josh Groban, Remarkable New Voice in the Music Scene
YOU, Philippine Daily Inquirer
May 23, 2002
By Shiloah Matic
Goosebumps. Not because of the air-conditioning in the MRT--where I was when I first popped Josh Grobanís self-titled debut album into my discman--but because if ever a voice deserves to be labeled "haunting" and "heartbreakingly beautiful," his does.

The man

Regular viewers of hit TV show "Ally McBeal" may recognize this sweet-faced, dark-haired cherub. Groban first appeared in the showís prom episode as an awkward high school senior who hires Ally to sue his longtime crush for emotional damages. At the end of episode, the lanky loner is transformed when he begins to sing "Youíre Still You"óthe auditorium full of high school students quiets down and gazes at him in awe. Viewers loved the unknown young singer and 8,000 fan e-mails later, Groban was asked to reprise his role with an equally heart stopping performance of "To Where You Are." Both songs are included in this album.

Though most young people wouldnít be caught dead listening to anything remotely classical or operatic, Groban doesnít strictly belong to either genre. Groban himself said in a recent chat with ABC News that he considers himself a pop singer. Sure, his voice is fuller and he sings in more languages than the Timberlakes and Ricky Martins in the music scene, but the album includes a good mix of classical pieces, like Bachís "Jesu, Joy of Manís Desire," and contemporary songs, such as "Home to Stay," that most dreamy-eyed teenagers can still relate to (though he does make it harder to sing along).

The music

The album consists of 12-tracks, half of which are in English. "To Where You Are" is a real tearjerker that explores the loss of a loved one through death ( "I know you're there/A breath away's not far/To where you are"). Loss is also the focus of "Home to Stay." Both songs, though melancholy, still exude a youthful hopefulness, even in the face of death and heartbreak. In a sonic landscape filled with songs of drugs, depression and an "Iíll die without you" attitude coming from even young musical artists, Grobanís idealism is a rosy sunrise in the horizon.

"Youíre Still You" is a beautiful song of unconditional love ("Time changes everything/One truth always stays the same/You're still you"). Groban starts out tenderly then grows more powerful, more emotional. There is a sincerity in his voice that makes it seem like he were singing to you and hopelessly in love with you. Goosebumps again.

Also included in the album is Grobanís rendition of the Andrea Bocelliís "The Prayer," which he sang at the 1999 Grammy rehearsals with Celine Dion at mentor David Fosterís request when Bocelli was unable to make it. Groban also teams up with pop group The Corrs for "Canto Alla Vita," which features a beat that sets it apart from your average Italian operatic track. In English, this could very well be Grobanís mottoó"I sing to life/To all its beauty/To every wound of it/To every caress of it." And on the MRT, listening to him sing, life certainly felt more beautiful.