Crooner adopts rougher edge

Crooner adopts rougher edge

Illuminations is the result of an unlikely pairing of baritone Josh Groban with Rick Rubin, the producer responsible for such artists as Metallica and Beastie Boys. Although Groban's fifth album may not offer any songs as popular as his rendition of You Raise Me Up, it seeks to push the boundaries of classico-pop.

While the album takes every opportunity to show off his rich vocals, the opening track, Wandering Kind, is purely instrumental. It is an impressively complex piece driven by Groban's flowing piano-playing, especially given that he composed it when he was only 12 years old. Fans waiting to hear the famous voice may not approve, but as a prelude to the album it sets up a crisp but romantic sound.

The raw, stripped-down feel continues throughout the album - Rubin has brought a rougher, spontaneous edge to Groban's approach. Most of the tracks are single takes and live recordings - a fact that's hard to believe given how flawless the album sounds.

The album includes Groban's first attempt at a song in Portuguese, Voce Existe em Mim, which features a drum troupe. His attempt at falsetto can sound weak, but the strong chorus showcases his beautiful baritone.

With this wistful, folksy album full of classical overtones, Groban's new sound may not utterly delight old fans but it is sure to win him new ones.

YP rating: 4/5

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