Mixing Romance, Restraint
L. A. Times
The young L.A. singer and his mentor, producer David Foster, struck a platinum vein two years ago with his 3.5 million-selling debut album, tapping an audience pretty much ignored by the music industry: fans of the heroic pop tenor.
Groban and Foster are smart enough not to fix what isn't broken, and his sophmore album (in stores Tuesday) consists of another batch of richly orchestrated ballad d'amour, about half sung in English, the others in such Romance languages as Italian, Spanish and French.
Singers in this field tend to pour on the syrup, so it's refreshing that Groban opts for restraint as often as he does with his dark, pitch-perfect voice. Without reading translations, most of his audience won't know the specifics of what he's singing in the foreign-language songs. But that makes him even more effective as Josh Groban, International Man of Romantic Mystery.
The single "You Raise Me Up" is a magnificently sung message of thanks to one's source of inspiration, though melodically it sounds like the shotgun marriage of "Danny Boy" and "Wind Beneath My Wings." That's one instance in which his song selection isn't as astute as, say, Bette Midler when she's on a roll.
Imagine what a voice like this might do with some really killer material by Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, or Bob Dylan.