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.