December 11, 2003
By Roy McKenzie
Following the spectacular success of his self-entitled debut album, which made him the best-selling debut male artist in 2002 with five million sales, singing sensation Josh Groban had a hard act to follow with his next album.

Fortunately, fans will in no way be disappointed with his latest offering, ‘Closer’, which still showcases that mesmerising vocal talent, but this time with more personal input from Groban himself, including co-writing three of the tracks, playing the piano on one, and some interesting collaborations.

Listening to the album, it is still difficult to believe Groban is only 22, and had to drop out of his final year in performing arts school when his musical career took off. And boy, did fate shine fondly on him. Who can forget that gawky-looking lovesick teenager in ‘Ally McBeal’ and being astounded by the maturity in his voice? Next thing he was filling in at the 1999 Grammy Awards, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Working again with producer David Foster (who has worked with the likes of Barbra Streisand, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion), Groban has been careful not to compromise what was obviously a winning formula. But what strikes you is a more confident, mature and accomplished sound. His technique is flawless and his tones as purity and power personified.

Groban sings well in English, Italian, Spanish and French, choosing a diverse range of tracks to satisfy a range of classical crossover tastes, as well all the incurable romantics. While there are plenty of sweet, soppy tracks, such as ‘Remember When It Rains’, ‘Caruso’ and ‘You Raise Me Up’, Groban shows he is also starting to move out of that league, and it’s refreshing to have tracks like ‘Don’t Let Go’, his collaboration with Deep Forest, to give a slightly different sound.

His baritone tones are still nothing short of stunning, and with critics saying his voice has yet to mature, and is edging towards tenor territory, hopefully there will be many surprises from this bright young star in the future. But for now, this will make the perfect Christmas present…