Today “Music Review Tuesday” is taking a gentler approach to the music. I am also following the course laid out from last week and reviewing another Christmas album. It is the season to be sure and I hope I don’t turn off my usual head banging readers. The artist I am reviewing today is Josh Groban, and before I hear anymore groans from the hard core element of my readership which could likely have been me, I need to remind that this is music review Tuesday and I am trying to pursue a variety of music. Josh Groban is a Grammy nominated American singer/songwriter known for his mature baritone voice. He is a very talented vocalist and has recorded with many like musicians in his young life. He was born in Los Angeles in 1981. He is mostly known for his classical pieces but he has also performed and recorded songs more in line with the pop culture. I encountered an example of this just last night while searching for Christopher Parkening performances. Groban and Parkening perform “Vincent” originally written and recorded by Don McLean.
Noel is the name of his Christmas album. It was released October 9th, 2007. It sold over 1.5 million copies in the first eight weeks of it’s release. The sales for this release have exceeded his previous releases by more than 3 times. The album begins with a solitary church bell ringing in the background and then Groban’s voice gently comes in with “Silent Night”. It is beautifully done. The next track is “Little Drummer Boy” one of my Christmas favorites and one that can be done very well by talented folks. This version is done very well. The next track is “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and is even hard for me to write about. The recording has messages from family members of service men and women added throughout. I have listened to it at least four times now and I have yet to get through it without tearing up. Seriously, this head banger does tear up. What would any Christmas album from a very talented singer be without performing the classical “Ava Maria”? This is the following track and Groban nails it so to speak. He was born to sing these kinds of songs.
The album highlights are “Silent Night”, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (sniff sniff), “Ava Maria”, “The Christmas Song” which is not as soulful as Nat King Cole but a great version in it’s own right. “First Noel” which is a duet with Faith Hill, “Petit papa Noel” is a classic French Christmas song, translated “Little Santa Claus”, “Panis Angelicus” which means “bread of angels” written by Thomas Aquinas, “O Come All Ye Faithful” performed with The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is done very well and is the perfect end to this beautiful Christmas album.
For a Christmas album this is by far one of the best I’ve heard in a long time (Trans-Siberian Orchestra aside). It would be an excellent purchase and add to anyone’s Christmas music collection. It is very well produced and the song selections are perfect for Groban’s voice. I will give it a conservative four stars out of five.
For your pleasure I also have included the video for “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” from Good Morning America.