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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Josh Groban - All That Echoes

We here at Musical Druggernauts aren’t gonna lie to you, our loyal fans. We have missed you dearly. This past month without you has been more miserable than finding out on your 18th birthday that Santa Clause doesn’t exist. The time has come, however, to return the favor…to give it back.  That said, our first review of this new year is a little bit off the beaten path from something that we would normally cover. But we are pioneers in broadening those musical horizons for everyone, so without further adieu, let the journey begin.
This week we cover that guy you wanted to punch directly in the face in Crazy, Stupid, Love. That guy whose song you always hear at church’s that have enacted this hip, cool feeling by covering a contemporary song (whether every week or just on Easter…you know who you are). Yeah, I’m talking about Josh Groban, people. The man whose voice is so perfect in tone that you can’t help but wonder if he is half man/half machine.  It’s been awhile since we have really heard Groban’s name in the music scene. Rumors have been flying around that with this new album, All That Echoes, he is looking to get into a more pop sounding realm. After all is said and done, however, will he stay true to his musical roots or come up flat? Read on to find out!!
The opening track, “Brave,” has a very Groban feel to it with a slow building instrumentation that really helps highlight his voice. When it comes to Groban, less is more. Rather than hitting us in the face with too much production, a great use of string accompaniment, drums, and a hint of piano is all it takes to add enough depth to Groban’s already powerful chops.  It is at the chorus when we get this full orchestra sound that makes you envision him singing this before a crowd of thousands. It is very operatic feeling, which is his textbook sound, but the melody flows so effortlessly that it has a pop sensibility in it that keeps you drawn in.  If you gave this song to someone who only listens to the melody and not lyrics, it would definitely pass the first listen test.
            Lyrically, this is a very empowering song, much like that of “Raise Me Up.” Although it isn’t necessarily as religious in nature or as lyrically prophetic, it still has a great message in it that will hit a nerve with many. In the second verse this rings true:
            “Hold on, hold on, so strong, time just carries on.
            And all that you thought was wrong is pure again.
            You can’t hide forever from the thunder.
            Look into the storm and feel the rain.”

What is great about actually listening to these lyrics or reading them on paper is that no matter the current situation you are in, you can relate to this on a personal level. It could be about a job, relationship, anything. From this verse, it’s more of an affirmation that time does heal all wounds and knowing this, we have no reason to fear the things that stand or get in our way from being happy with who we are.
Although the majority of Groban’s songs have that feeling of endearment, “Happy in My Heartache,” really sticks out on All That Echoes.  The beautiful intertwining of both piano and guitar makes this song special. Even with its incorporation of a string section, it feels as if Groban is singing directly to you, adding a whole other dimension. It is a light, airy sounding song despite having a melancholic theme about lost love. This juxtaposition is effective and further delineates Groban as a real artist, at a time when those are seemingly few and far between.
             Lyrically, “Happy in My Heartache,” has some of the best writing in the entire album. From the first verse, the reality of an aching heart is described so succinctly that it serves a deep, unveiling sentiment, which only poetry can do at certain times. Groban sings:
“Coffee is on the table, and I
            Just can’t seem to wake up this aching heart of mine.
            One more day without you and I’ll be fine.
            I know I’m good for waiting, but waiting’s wasted time.”

These words are hard enough of “truth pills” to swallow, but Groban makes it that much more cathartic and emotionally wrenching. (Stop having the absolutely right things to say that pull on those heartstrings!!) Interesting enough, is how Groban once again focuses on this idea of time and how it complicates things. Sure, we can wait out things until the pain is less severe with each and everyday, but living in the now is something we have to force ourselves to do. Relationships, whether intimate or not, always have their ups and downs. There is something I read recently that really hits the nail on the head with this: “You were fine before you ever met this person. Soon enough you both will be fine again.” It’s a declaration of sorts, in that we should cherish what we have and to not regret the things that we don’t. Groban, himself, seems to know of this all too well.
Overall, Groban’s music might not be your cup of tea. His voice is a lot like James Blunt in a sense that it is good, but you can only stand it in minor doses. If you are a diehard of Groban or are looking for something new, then this may suit that empty void in your heart where Santa used to be…I digress. Other great tracks to check out include: “Falling Slowly” and “Un Alma Mas.” Until then, Druggernauts!!!

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