BWW CD Reviews: Josh Groban's STAGES is Lush and Fantastic

BWW CD Reviews: Josh Groban's STAGES is Lush and Fantastic
Cover art courtesy of Republic Records.

No stranger to stages around the world, internationally acclaimed singer Josh Groban released his lush album STAGES late last month. The album is a sparkling collection of some of musical theater's greatest songs, giving fans of Broadway and fans of Josh Groban many reasons to rejoice. Josh Groban was drawn to these songs because of their arrangements, melodies, and the stories they tell, and across the disc his passion for these songs shows.

With kaleidoscopic whimsy, the record opens with Josh Groban singing a beautiful rendition of "Pure Imagination" from the film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. For the track he utilizes the softer aspect of his impressive tenor instrument to expertly convey the wonderment that the song inspires. Without missing a beat, the second track of the collection, "What I Did For Love" from A CHORUS LINE, showcases Josh Groban's tender vocal stylings during the first portions of the songs. He smartly allows the song and his voice to build to the epic and powerful belt that he is known for, creating an anthem-like torch song with the cherished hit tune.

All of the songs are gorgeously performed. Standouts include the incredible mash-up of Stephen Sondheim classics "Children Will Listen" and "Not While I'm Around" from INTO THE WOODS and SWEENEY TODD. Here, he crafts a piece that is truly spellbinding and utterly magnificent. His take on "You'll Never Walk Alone" from CRAOUSEL is refreshing and features Josh Groban's alluring and commanding belt being pristinely deployed to convey the rich emotionality of the beloved song. His version of "Finishing the Hat" from SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE is gripping and majestic. Utilizing vibrant vocals and evoking the lustrous hope of the song against the undulating underscore is absolutely breathtaking. The album closes with his captivating and perfected "Anthem" from CHESS.

Unfortunately, not all the songs on the album are home runs. His technically brilliant rendition of "Bring Him Home" from LES MISERABLES sounds great, but the richly evocative song falls flat for me emotionally. I don't know if this is caused from the song's overexposure, from it being removed from the context of the show, or the fact that I personally feel that Ramin Karimloo sings the best version of the tune I have ever heard. Likewise, his "All I Ask of You" from THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA doesn't stir me either. Again, his performance is technically without flaw, but I simply do not feel the romance of the song. Likewise, Kelly Clarkson doesn't impress me on the track either. Her own beautiful voice sounds strained on the higher notes.

STAGES is a fantastic release from Josh Groban. Overall the album is a radiant celebration of music from the stage. As if his turn in CHESS at Royal Albert Hall in 2009 wasn't enough to make us want to see Josh Groban in a musical, this album ensures that we absolutely want to see Josh Groban on Broadway.

Reprise Records released Josh Groban's STAGES digitally on April 20, 2015. Physical copies were made available on April 28, 2015. The album can be purchased from Josh Groban's online store, iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.

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From This Author David Clarke

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