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Editorial Reviews

On 'Illuminations,' Groban worked with veteran producer Rick Rubin, known for his critically acclaimed work with Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash, and Dixie Chicks among many others. Groban co-wrote the majority of the songs, including 'Hidden Away,' which he wrote with Dan Wilson - former leader of the band Semisonic and co-writer of several cuts on the Dixie Chicks' 'Not Ready to Make Nice.' 'Hidden Away' was recorded live with Groban singing and playing piano, Matt Sweeney and Smokey Hormel on acoustic guitars, and veteran R&B icon Spooner Oldham on organ, with a striking orchestral arrangement by David Campbell added later. The opening piano chords and the unfolding melody evoke a timeless Americana, a thread from Stephen Foster through Aaron Copland through Paul Simon and Randy Newman, as Groban makes a heartfelt plea not to hide true love or one's true self.

'Illuminations' finds both Groban and Rubin stepping out of each one's respective zone and creating an entirely new zone. The bracing result fulfills Rubin's vision of a 'fine art' Groban record, marrying the warmth of the sweeping American roots of Groban's writing and the grandeur of classical settings by matching the live, one-take performances by Groban and the intimate, core acoustic band with colorful orchestral arrangements by David Campbell and James Newton Howard.

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. The Wandering Kind (Prelude) 2:37$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Bells Of New York City 3:49$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Galileo (Someone Like You) 3:21$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  4. L'Ora Dell'Addio 3:26$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Hidden Away 3:54$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Au Jardin Des Sans-Pourquoi 3:30$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Higher Window 4:36$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  8. If I Walk Away 3:52$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Love Only Knows 4:40$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen10. Você Existe Em Mim 5:05$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen11. War At Home 4:44$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen12. London Hymn 1:56$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen13. Straight To You 4:10$1.29  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 15, 2010)
  • Original Release Date: November 15, 2010
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: 143 Records/Reprise Records
  • ASIN: B0042JTDXK
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (456 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,810 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

154 of 162 people found the following review helpful By Sherrie Jackson on November 23, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I came a little late to the Josh Groban party; he already had three albums out and the Christmas one on the way. I think that may be why changes in style and mood from album to album don't bother, or delight, me as they do fans who've been there from the beginning. I recognize "Illuminations" is a hard right turn away from previous efforts, but there is a lot to enjoy here.

"Hidden Away" and "Higher Window" are real surprises for me; they're simple, beautiful songs, and not unlike the song "Awake" from the album of the same name; however, the melodies are very strong here and the lyrics feel close to home. "Straight to You" is starting to look like my favorite song of his: the interpretation is sublime, the instrumentation inspired, and I like that he stays in mid-range, which reinforces the lyrics of the chorus.

"Voce Existe Em Mim" is the coolest song he's ever done. Had he stuck to the previous albums' formula, this could have had the track 1 spot. Obviously the beat is killer. And do the chords in the chorus sound distinctly...Native American? Even cooler. There are a lot of amazing layers in these songs, some of which require the use of headphones to fully appreciate.

"London Hymn" is where I started to think I understood the underlying inspiration JG was working from. I don't know too much about his musical roots - I know he loves the theater - but it's hard not to think he owns a lot of classical music. When you hear pieces like Rachmaninov's "Vespers" or Sibelius' "Andante Festivo," it's extremely easy to make the transition to "London Hymn" or "Straight to You."

There are other strong songs - "If I Walk Away," "War at Home," "L'Ora Dell'Addio." The French song was just okay for me, as were "Bells of NYC" and "Galileo.
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214 of 255 people found the following review helpful By Jazifer on November 19, 2010
Format: Audio CD
There seems to be a concerted effort by a number of fans to boost the ratings of this CD by posting glowing reviews, so it's going to be slightly more challenging to decipher what is a genuinely great review and one coming from a fan who would give 5* to a recording of Groban reading the telephone directory. I also presume, therefore, that any reviews that are not favourable will come with a 2/17 people found this review of use attached. All I can say is that if you are considering purchasing this CD, are not a self-confessed music starved Groban fan who is just happy to hear new music after several years, and if you have access to listen to it via a streaming service - take the opportunity to listen to it first before buying it. The mixed reviews really do indicate that this album is polarising listeners and fans, not least because the greater abundance of falsetto that has crept in. You may enjoy it, but I would try before you buy first.

My own personal thoughts --

I will freely admit that I was never a serious fan of the early work Groban did with David Foster and I don't view this as a Foster v Rubin thing, so this isn't a hankering for a return to the older style recordings. In fact, I was eagerly anticipating this album based on what Groban had said about changing direction. He had actively played that up in interviews and the choice of working with Rick Rubin seemed to indicate this, as did his live version of "Changing Colours" which I really do enjoy a great deal and listen to often. However, I don't feel that he's done that. And yet, at the same time, I think he's charged off in many different directions. I just do not know what to make of this album, even after forcing myself to listen to it for a dozen times or so when I'd rather have left it alone.
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117 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Anne B. on November 15, 2010
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Josh Groban has always been a great singer. What is really amazing is that after years of voice lessons he is noticeably better. How could he improve what was already so great? He managed. Everything is clearer, purer, richer, better executed. His lowest notes used to be his downfall & he sometimes struggled with them, but no more. His higher range notes sound more relaxed, more powerful, clearer. Unbelievable. The one oddity, for a near-operatic baritone, is that he relies a great deal on falsetto, which sometimes works well, but not always.

The sound on this album is just crystal clear, clean, awesome. I've never heard anything sound so clean.

Josh wrote 11 of the songs on this album, mostly with collaborators. This is more than he's written before. The songs include quite a bit of variety, with some sounding distinctly classical, others sounding more like folk ballads, and one ("The War At Home") sounding just a little bit country-ish. The lyrics and sound are generally moving and thought provoking.

The album is missing some of the more avante-guarde elements of some of his earlier albums -- and generally comes off as more traditional -- and yet not traditional. His melodies always take unexpected twists. His voice makes unexpected shifts in timbre. Just as you think you're in familiar territory musically, suddenly you're not. But the stuff he did with Mouquet and Heap in the past were more experimental, which is the one thing I really miss on this album, though "Voce Existe in Mim" has a bit of the quality of those prior works of Josh's.

In the past, I saw him as part of an international community of fusionists who were working to fuse elements of all sorts of music together to form new sounds.
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Topic From this Discussion
What's with the Watchtower building on the cover back?
It's an honor to see the Watchtower building in the background. Why did they do it? I don't know. But I like it.
Dec 5, 2010 by Inca Princess |  See all 5 posts
Straight To You dates
I went to Denver and am going to Charleston. He is worth every penny live. We enjoyed his "patter" with the audience. It is interesting that he is allowing some of his real personality to emerge. I think that he is even better in person than on his cds. I love that he does not make... Read More
Sep 24, 2011 by Firth Fan |  See all 5 posts
changes at Warner Music - what if Josh decided to go indie
I will continue to listen to Josh Groban and attend his concerts as long as I enjoy his music. I enjoy all of his music, from the classical Italian to the S.African "Weeping". His voice is incredible, from high notes to low.
Sep 24, 2011 by Firth Fan |  See all 3 posts
Adult Contemporary music charts Be the first to reply
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