Album of the Week: Josh Groban 'Stages'
Mon, 04 May 2015 09:37:20
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The 21st century’s ultimate crooner successfully takes on Broadway and Hollywood.
Josh Groban scores Album of the Week with his latest release, Stages [Reprise Records]. 2013’s All That Echoes once again asserted him as the 21st century’s foremost voice with a pack of powerful original material. However, Stages really gives that voice room to flex like never before as the powerhouse singer breathes new life into thirteen, fifteen if you opt for the deluxe edition, Broadway and film staples.
In many ways, there’s no better place to begin than “Pure Imagination” from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The original possesses so much magic that it continues to cast a spell on new viewers every minute. Groban manages to tap into that magic, while adding an element of orchestral power that takes “Pure Imagination” to heavenly heights. It sounds sweetly operatic as he carries that instantly recognizable refrain. The same could be said for “Bring Him Home” from Les Misérables. He embraces that revolutionary spirit, while delivering his own unmistakable and unique panache to the recording.
Groban teams up with Kelly Clarkson for a soulful “All I Ask Of You” from The Phantom of the Opera. The pair really push each other to hit this big bombastic notes with aplomb. It’s a dazzling display of two of pop’s biggest voices, doing what they do best. Another stand out is his phenomenal interpretation of “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz. His register matches the music, unlocking an inimitable vulnerability that proves simply undeniable.
Few artists could take classics like these and not only pay homage, but update them with a personal spin the way that Groban does. He really comes to life here, practically popping out of the speakers with a legendary power. As a result, this is one of his best albums yet as well as a fitting tribute. Still, it sets the stage for even bigger things from this modern icon—and that’s the most exciting aspect of all.