Overall: (?)

Classical < < < > > > Pop

Highlights: You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up), February Song, Now or Never, Lullaby, Machine

This album is perhaps more pop than the others since Groban has clearly taken matters into his own hands. This album is Groban’s most personal to date; a lot of it is inspired by his trip to Africa and he has started to experiment with different artists and instruments. For example, you will find Herbie Hancock, Imogen Heap, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Dave Matthews in collaboration with Groban in the writing credits. This all makes for an interesting and eclectic album.

To further Groban’s credit, the songs that he penned himself are the stronger tracks of the album: the melodic piano-led ballad ‘February Song’ (which has also been released as a single), the soothing ‘Lullaby’ inspired by African children he met, the poppy ‘Now or Never’, written with Imogen Heap, the experimental and rockier ‘Machine’, and the album’s closing and title track ‘Awake’ (which was strangely omitted from the American release of the album). Each track shows diversity and the enthusiasm Groban has to create and try new sounds.

Unfortunately, Groban did not write the biggest highlight of the album, the immensely poppy ‘You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up)’ which even enjoyed some radio airplay and a top ten spot in the adult comtemporary chart. The song has a killer chorus and Groban makes full use of his falsetto vocals which is an utmost pleasure to listen to.

Groban has not completely abandoned his previous format. He still sings in Italian and Spanish occasionally, and his traditional Italian epic opener still welcomes you to his album – his first album had ‘Alla Luce Del Sole’, second ‘Oceano’ and this album has ‘Mai’; they all sound very similar and follow the same structure. This means that the album is still very Grobanish, and the fans are comfortable, but at the same time, Groban strides to broaden the horizon of his audience as there is nothing samey about this album.

There are not really any drawbacks to this album, except for the fact that it’s probably too poppy for a lot of the crossover audience, and classing it as such is quite misleading. If you’re someone that is quite taken by the standard crossover format this one is probably not for you. This album may be more suited for fans of Sarah Brightman’s experimental albums and Russell Watson’s more recent material.

Track Listing
1. Mai
2. You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up)
3. Un Dia Llegara
4. February Song
5. L’Ultima Notte
6. So She Dances
7. In Her Eyes
8. Solo Por Ti
9. Now Or Never
10. Un Giorno Per Noi
11. Lullaby (with Ladysmith Black Mambazo)
12. Weeping (with Ladysmith Black Mambazo)
13. Machine (with Herbie Hancock)
14. Verita
15. Awake