Josh Groban Romances a Full House at Palace
Louisville Courier-Journal
April 16, 2004
By Jeffrey Lee Puckett
Josh Groban is the most unlikely of success stories. A 22-year-old from Los Angeles, he has sold more than 8 million records ripe with flowery sentiments sung in Italian, French, Spanish and English. He has had a No.1 album with barely a sniff from the mainstream music media and little radio play. His current tour sold out every show, 40 in all, within 30 minutes of going on sale.

All of this at a time when Usher, Lil' Flip and Jessica Simpson dominate the taste of the masses.

How? Why? And who is buying all of these albums? The answers were found last night at the Louisville Palace, where Groban charmed a largely female audience. Imagine a combination of Mario Lanza, Perry Como, Julio Iglesias and Barry Manilow, giving you a cocktail of great pipes, laid-back manner, foreign charm and a likable earnestness.

The music seals the deal. It's romantic to the point of no return; lush enough to cushion a fall from 20, 30 stories; highly, resolutely dramatic; and, unfortunately, a shade too sleepy.

Groban loves slow songs, although he occasionally sings one that's really slow. All are very pretty, but the relentless sameness can be draining (or possibly foreplay, depending on your point of view). Because much of it isn't in English, your attention span has to work overtime.

But Groban has a gorgeous high baritone. He wraps lyrics in silk, massages them and whispers sweet nothings in their ears until they bend to his will. And, by extension, he does the same to a roomful of breathless fans.

Groban and a miniature orchestra performed several songs from his latest album, "Closer," which moves slightly away from his earlier classical-lite efforts and toward material with a Broadway feel. "My Confession" and, especially, "Broken Vow" sounded like the kind of show-stoppers that Broadway loves.

Groban picked up the pace to begin the second half of his show, but it didn't suit him as well. The booming drums edged dangerously close to Yanni territory, although he quickly switched to some weepers, including a tribute to Enrico Caruso.