Review: Josh Groban

All that Echoes, Josh Groban’s sixth and latest album, hit shelves on February 5. Groban went all out with instruments this time around. In his album trailer on YouTube, he said, “We weren’t afraid to use big sound on this album.”

That they weren’t. The only problem is that Groban’s voice is best matched by a quieter sound. Comparing his latest hits, like “Brave” and “False Alarms”, to past hits, like “You Are Loved” and “Higher Window”, the contrast is quite large. Groban’s recent songs have more of a pop sound than the operatic one his fans are used to. That’s not to say this is a bad thing; it’s just different. Hardcore Groban fans likely won’t mind the difference, but those who aren’t as familiar with Groban’s tunes might be taken by surprise.

Looking back to Illuminations, released in 2010, “If I Walk Away” is notable for its large sound and use of choir. On the new album, “I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)” uses the same style, but the sound might be too big this time. One wouldn’t expect a voice like Groban’s to be drowned out by the music, but unfortunately that’s what happens in some of his new songs.

Regardless of what sound he chooses, any Josh Groban fan knows to expect some songs in Italian. True to form, the new album has the songs “Un Alma Mas” and “Sincera” in Spanish and Italian respectively. The soft instrumental background in “Mi Mancherai” and “Per Te” (on Closer, an album released in 2003) complemented Groban’s voice beautifully, and  the new songs do the same. The Italian songs will never let his fans down—they’re the only ones that fall into the typical operatic genre his listeners know and love.

All that Echoes reminded me of “Never Let Go” (another song on Closer) for the simple reason that the sound overpowers  Groban’s outstanding voice. That’s not to say that there aren’t great songs on this album (most notably, “Hollow Talk”, “Happy in my Heartache”, and “Changing Colours”).

Groban was kind enough to stream the majority of his album free on iTunes, but there are some songs that remain exclusive to the album. I have not yet heard the remaining four tracks on All that Echoes, but one of them, “Grazie”, is in Italian, so it’s sure to be fantastic.

Overall, this album is hit-and-miss thanks to its change in sound. Groban’s voice gets lost in some of the beginning tracks, but further into All that Echoes, normality is restored and it’s an easy listen. MMM

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