by Josh Groban, pop/classical (2003)
Reprise/WEA, ASIN B0000CFW87

Josh Groban's debut is an uncomfortable mix of radio-friendly schmaltz and some decent adventurous exercises in combining vocals with new agey sounds. I won't admit it to people I know but I regularly give that CD a spin at home. His follow-up, Closer, however, is just like I feared: it is packed to the brim with sickeningly cloying and nauseously sentimental pap. The result is a CD that has the consistency of oversweetened gelatinous vomit.

If one take away the tinkly piano, melodramatic strings, and Groban's admittedly very listenable voice singing in Italian and French, too many of the tracks on Closer are nothing more than saccharine ballads that bring to mind the ersatz and calculated romanticism of music targeted to middle-aged people that think just because a song is sung in Italian by a geeky guy with big voice, it must be "classical opera music" to bestow upon the listener some fake noveau avante garde pretensions. Closer will be a big hit with people looking for love in Tuscany but having to settle for a round at the tables and the tattoo parlors of Vegas instead.

I do like Groban's collaboration with Deep Forest, Never Let Go, however. This song is cloying schmaltz, make no mistake, but when Groban booms out dramatically the last line in the chorus - "And never let goooooooooo!" - he sends chills up my spine. He has a really nice voice. Maybe we should put it to use in something really over-the-top and bombastic. Groban, have your people call Jim Steinman at once.

Rating: 52

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