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  • Awake
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The twenty-five year old phenomenon with the swoon-inducing baritone returns with his third studio album just in time for Christmas, and I'm guessing that many of his fans are going to give themselves a pre-season treat.

Groban expands his horizons on this album, writing and producing some of the tracks, and mixing it up with international artistes like Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Herbie Hancock, not forgetting Dave Matthews, Five for Fighting and of course David Foster. Following his earlier formula, there are tracks in English, Italian and Spanish, and although the lyrics may be in another language, this doesn't detract from the simple and timeless beauty of the music.

First single "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)" is one of the most inspiring tracks, with lyrics like "Don't give up / It's just the weight of the world / When you're heart's heavy / I...I will lift it for you", but the crème de la crème as far as I'm concerned is the amazing "February Song" where he accompanies himself on the piano.

Another track to note is "So She Dances" and then there's "In Her Eyes", but one that'll stop you in your tracks is "Lullaby", written by Groban and Dave Matthews, and sung a cappella with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. If you liked Paul Simon's "Graceland", you'll love "Weeping", also with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and what better way to close an album than a collaboration with Herbie Hancock.

Third time's another charmer for Josh Groban.

Amanda Richards, November 7, 2006
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VINE VOICEon November 8, 2006
I am a huge fan of Josh's first two CDs and I expected to love Awake too; playing it quite a few times puts it close to love, but more like appreciation for the things he's experimenting with and some of his collaborations.

In my opinion, without (for the most part) the guiding hand of David Foster, Josh seems more experimental here. He's kept the orchestra on most songs, but the piano-driven melodies of Closer aren't as prominent here. Josh also has more songwriting credits than before.

Of the 13 songs, 8 are in English this time, and those 8 seem to me to be more "radio friendly" than some of his past work, "You're Still You" excepted. Of those 8, the collaboration with Five for Fighting's John Ondrasik ("February Song") is by far the most likely to be a radio hit. The omission of the title track is ridiculous; I would have given up two of the other songs to make room for it.

For me, the weakest part of this CD is the selection of a couple of songs that seem totally out of place here, even if this is a "new" Josh. "Lullaby" with Ladysmith and Black Mambazo and "Weeping" with Ladysmith, Black Mambazo and Vusi Mahlasela are awful. They both seem like fragments of a song and I still can't figure out how they fit into the theme of this CD. The one excellent collaboration is "Machine" with the fabulous Herbie Hancock.

I wish I could say that every song moved me, but that's not the case. I've grown to like "Mai," "You Are Loved," "February Song,""Ungiorno Per Noi," and the fun "Machine." The other songs leave me with the feeling that something's missing. They don't seem passionate, they don't really have a hook and they don't feel like any of the songs on Closer or his self-titled CD.

There's no denying that Josh has a remarkable voice (I would let him sing the alphabet and love it), but I'm not sure I like some of the production and arrangements. Maybe I just miss David Foster's constant presence. I'm still a huge fan and I'll absolutely pick up his next CD. I think Josh himself said it well when he said something to the effect of hoping that no matter what the song, when someone hears it, they don't think, well, that's an interesting song. They just say hey, that's Josh.

I'm hoping next time around, there is more of Josh and the oddly uneven song choice isn't repeated.
1111 comments184 of 205 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 7, 2006
I've been a Josh Groban fan for quite some time now. Ever since I

heard his rendition of "the prayer" he's been one of my favorite

musicians. I was somewhat let down by his recent albums with the

"pop" turn his music was going in like "Closer". Also the live

albums were great, but there was nothing new. This album goes back to

his roots from his self titled album "Josh Groban" released in 2001.

The first single "You are Loved" is probably as pop as the album

gets, and even that song is simply amazing with his falsetto. Songs

like "L'Ultima Notte" and "So She dances" mix his classical style

with the soft rock feel that classic Josh fans should love. Solo Por

Ti brings back the classic guitar heard in earlier songs like

"alejate" and "vincent". the acapella track "Lullabye" is a real

change for Josh. You can hear the influence from Dave Matthews in

background vocals. Apparently it was inspired to his recent trip to

South Africa (where dave matthews is from) where he also met Nelson

Mandela. He performs this with the help of Ladysmith Black Mambazo,

which really gives it an almost gospel sound type sound not heard

from Josh before. "weeping", also performed with Ladysmith Black

Mambazo has more of a "tribal" feel to it (like Lion King) also,

excellent and different for Josh.

Though the bonus tracks are great on the Special Edition, I'm not

sure the almost double price difference is worth it. The DVD is only

33 minutes long and simply is the "making" of the album. I think the

title track "Awake" could have been the first slow single off this

album and included in the normal release.

"Verita" is a wonderful orchestra arrangement also typical of

classic Josh material.

All in all, this is the quintessential Josh Groban album, mixing his

ability to sing classical and mix pop and soft rock overtones into

it. It's a must buy for all levels of Josh fans.
0Comment26 of 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 9, 2007
I'm a huge fan of Josh Groban's and listening to both of his previous CDs have moved me to tears on more than one occasion but after listening to Awake over and over again, I have to say that I'm disappointed. I can't seem to find the same Josh in this CD, I know that he's trying to modernize his music but this "new style" of music doesn't really suit him, I particularly dislike his singing falsetto, he has such a powerful voice with an incredible range, he should use it. Of all of songs, I like the February Song and as much as I love the Romeo and Juliet song, I feel that his passion is somewhat lacking. This is definitely not his best work and I'm looking forward to his next CD.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 12, 2006
A girl that I had dated two years ago turned me onto Josh Groban. Imagine me, a pretty masculine guy, turned on to someone like Josh Groban. It wasn't long before I went to see him in concert and meet him personally backstage. In person he is extremely shy, but none of that shyness translates into his music.

Owning his first three CDs (that include his LIVE concert), I was a bit taken back by AWAKE. As is mentioned in a previous review here, AWAKE is a departure from what you might expect from Mr. Groban. Upon my first listening I was not overly impressed. The album didn't seem to grab me in the same manner that CLOSER did.

Having now listened to AWAKE countless times over the past two weeks I must confess that I have come to really enjoy the material here. The music seems to be a bit more styled towards "pop radio," and there is some interesting collaboration on the three final tracks with artists Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Herbie Hancock which is good but quite frankly, I could have done without. Josh does just fine on his own.

For me, the absolute best song on this album is Track #4, FEBRUARY SONG. You gotta love the way this song climbs into a frenzied cresecendo that is just magnificent.

I would have easily given this album 5 stars if not for the fact that despite its greatness, it still lacks behind CLOSER.

This album will not disappoint Josh Groban fans everywhere!
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on November 8, 2006
I rate this 4 stars because and only because it is missing the two bonus tracks. You HAVE to get the one w/ the bonus tracks. That album would be a 5. The two bonus tracks, which are not on this album, are the title track "Awake" and "Verita", probably the two best songs on the album. So if you are going to get the album, be sure to get the one w/ the bonus track and DVD. Otherwise, vintage Josh Groban. Still a good album. Would be great album w/ the bonus tracks.
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on November 27, 2006
I ordered this album before it was released and I have nothing to complain about. It's nice to see how people change over the years...and most of the times they step up to the next level...having said that, I am glad to see the mature side of Josh Groban and how he has evolved with the songs that he chose for this album...and not to mention that most of the songs are in English. These are my favorites of the favorites:

2. You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)-- Thank you for this song! It gives us hope & lifts us up...
4. February Song-- Beautiful song...I wish it was sung to me! I love the beginning, middle and the end of this song! When he plays the piano in the beginning there I am humming it along.
5. L'Ultima Notte-- I can't get this song out of my head! I love this song! My favorite!
7. In Her Eyes-- I honestly think it takes great vocal skills to sing this song. It seems as if I'm taken to a distant era, like in a kingdom far away...maybe during the Persian Empire and Josh is singing this song to moi. Sigh! :)
9. Now or Never-- Wow, another side of Josh...I'm impressed!
12. Weeping-- They couldn't have done it better! Great harmony indeed.
13. Machine-- I wasn't expecting this type of song...nice!
14. Verita-- It seems as if I've heard this song before, and wow, another beautiful song that I can't get out of my head!

I haven't commented on his two songs in Spanish because I haven't had the time to listen to those two songs...and as I've mentioned earlier, I like the fact that there are more songs in English than his previous albums...but going back to the songs in Spanish...he's doing a great job thus far but he should watch out on the pronunciation of the t's, q's, and p's but other than that, he's doing a better job than me in the r's. :)

Overall, I like this cd, where he's going and how he's evolving. Like he said, some people will hate this album and he might gain a new group of fans that will love it...count me on the 'love it' side...and I still love his first two albums. Good job Josh!
0Comment16 of 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 13, 2006
I have to admit. I was one of those viewers asking "who was that guy?" on Ally McBeal. Yes, it was Josh Groban. However, I became a huge fan with Closer. Now, with Awake, "huge fan" has been elevated to a whole new level.

As usual, Josh's voice is beyond belief (he has matured vocally so much since his first cd), and the music will touch your soul. But take this compilation even one step further. Listen, and I mean really "listen" to the lyrics. If you were ever in love, ever had your heart broken or ever needed hope, you will find a home with this cd. Josh lets you believe each and every song.

The song "Awake" on the special edition that Josh wrote for his parents could have been written for any parent by any child who knows what unconditional love is. As a parent, this song hits home because we spend out lives raising our children to BE independent, knowing that one day, they will have to "leave the nest" -- and as parents, this is bittersweet. This song brings it home.

I could go on about each and every song on this cd, but will stop with this one. I encourage you to go on this journey with Josh. I know I'm glad I did.
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on December 18, 2006
How time has flown. It seems like only yesterday when I first chanced upon Josh on Ally McBeal, playing a lovelorn high schooler serenading the girl of his dreams. Now, he's in his mid-20s, a hugely successful recording artiste, and only getting better with each passing year.

Awake is definitely his best album to date, with Josh sticking to what he does well, but also experimenting much more, with excellent results.

Sure, the usual blend of Italian / Spanish love ballads are there, plus a number of competent original compositions. But I notice a significant lightening of tone on this CD -- more pop-friendly, even on the heavier pieces.

I like it. Granted, Josh has a fabulous voice ( I've always said he can sing circles around Andrea Bocelli ), but his deliveries on previous albums were always so serious, almost bordering on melancholy. This time round, he seems to be finally learning how to have fun.

Still, this takes nothing away from his ability to stir a listener's heart. The last few tracks are great examples of this, from his passionate rendition of the Romeo & Juliet theme, to the beautiful African-flavoured Lullaby and Weeping. His performance on the jazz/rock/bluesy Machine is terrific, but if you have the special edition ( with bonus songs Verita and Awake ), I strongly recommend you listen ( and listen very closely ) to the title track.

Clearly Josh's personal best -- in terms of both writing and recording efforts -- this haunting, gorgeous piece is exquisitely nuanced, with gentle inflections which can sometimes be easily missed if one pays little attention.

As he hits the chorus ( "So keep me awake / to memorize you / Give me more time / to feel this way / We can't stay like this forever / But I can have you here with me / today" ), I fully expect him to belt from the get go, but instead, he chooses a soft approach, which adds much more poignance and literally takes my breath away.

Josh has always struck me as extremely mature for his age, but his musical style previously seemed just a tad monotonous ( not that I minded, since I have every single CD/DVD he's ever released! ). But Awake proves he's a lot more than just a great voice.

Well done.
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on December 13, 2006
This CD shows incredible growth and versatility for one of the most talented musicians in the world today and has my highest recommendation.

Josh showcases his smooth-as-silk baritone in songs that range from the more classical sounds of "Un Giorno Per Noi" from Romeo and Juliet to the electronica sounds of "Now or Never" to the more funk sounds of "Machine" and African influences in "Weeping". My personal favorite is "L'Ultima Notte" which translates to "The Final Night", a song about the end of a relationship which contains such raw emotion that it makes me want to cry everytime I hear it. His collaborations work well and his own songwriting is showcasing more of himself, the inner man we are getting to know better through his music.

Every single track on this CD is a keeper. There are NONE that I want to skip over after listening to it many times. No two songs sound alike - the range of different styles is mind-boggling. There is certain to be something for everyone here.

I highly recommend this CD or its companion, the Special Edition, which contains 2 additional songs and a DVD on the making of the album.

With the talent and willingness to explore displayed on "Awake", I cannot wait to see the next steps that Josh takes in his incredible career!
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