Josh Groban returns with “Harmony”, date with Chastain
One of the big issues to overcome was how to record in an era when musicians had to be socially distant and couldn’t travel and be in the same studio to record their parts. In this case, Groban was in Los Angeles, his producer, Bernie Herms, was in Nashville, and the orchestra that played a key role in arranging the songs was in London. But tech has provided a solution with a plug-in called Audiomovers that links multiple recording locations.
“(It gave us) the ability to connect with each other at the highest quality sound level. It’s like someone is in the room next to you,” Groban explained. And where you bounce your audio files in real time, it lets you share the airwaves and jam with each other across oceans in real time and so it sounds as good as if you were in the same room . That’s not how I like making music. I like that we are all in the same place. But when you’re making an album or a movie, sometimes you have to do what you have to do to get the final product and get the final message across.
As for the music itself, Groban highlighted two songs that weren’t originally considered for the “Harmony” album until the pandemic put a new backdrop on the project.
“There’s a few songs that come to mind that I don’t think of, I might have been a little intimidated or skeptical about doing, that felt absolutely right after everything we’d been through. , the first being ‘Impossible Dream,’ which is a song that I was maybe waiting to sing for maybe another musical theater album or something,” Groban said. “But also, I really knew that it was kind of (Robert) Goulet, just kind of big, bold, inspirational with a capital ‘I’ (song) I hadn’t really sat down and really listened to the lyrics, and it was my fault. But in my head, I always thought it was some kind of big brash ballad and I didn’t really think about it like it deserved. And when I really looked at those lyrics, and when I found myself getting really emotional while I was singing them and how we all tried to make those little step forward in the face of these enormous challenges, it felt both politically, emotionally, health, socially (on the right). So many things have happened in this year and a half, two years, that suddenly these words have made even more sense to me.
“The other song, of course, is ‘Both Sides Now,’ the Joni Mitchell song, which I was just afraid to sing,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to sing it, but it always feels like you have to get the stuff behind it before you tackle anything from Joni. I called my friend Sara Bareilles and told her that I knew we both loved her and that we loved this song. I didn’t know if it was the right time, but now I feel like it’s the right time. And she said “Yes, it’s the right time”. Let’s do it.’ And so those are two examples of things where we’re all trying to heal that really influenced how we do it.
Another change with the album was Groban’s decision to include a pair of original songs, “Your Face” and “The Fullest”, the latter taking on a bit of a gospel twist with Kirk Franklin guesting on the track.
Overall, “Harmony” brings a sense of comfort and optimism to a time when the world has suddenly become much more uncertain and scary. In addition to the aforementioned songs, “Harmony” includes Groban’s versions of contemporary pop standards such as “Celebrate Me Home” (by Kenny Loggins), “Shape of My Heart” by Sting (a duet with Leslie Odom Jr.) and ” The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (a success for Roberta Flack), while going back further for “It’s Now or Never” (the Elvis Presley hit) and drawing on Frank Sinatra’s catalog for “The World We Knew” (Over and Over).”
What sets the songs apart, besides Groban’s outstanding vocals, are the orchestral arrangements. They bring a different musical element to many songs and also place the ‘Harmony’ album right into the crossover/classic pop realm that Groban has occupied since bursting onto the scene with a self-titled 2001 debut that sold out. over four million copies worldwide. This album was followed by an even more popular release, the 2003 release “Closer”, which featured the hit “You Raise Me Up”.
Now 41, Groban has largely maintained his popularity since, releasing seven more studio albums, while making an impact as an actor on television (“The Office”, “The Crazy Ones” and “The Good Cop”). ), in films (“Crazy Stupid Love” and “Muppets Most Wanted”) and on Broadway, where he won the 2017 Tony Award for Best Actor for his lead role as Pierre Bezukhov in “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”.
Having been off the road since the pandemic began, Groban is beyond grateful and thrilled to be back on tour. He promised a show that will balance songs from “Harmony” with material from the catalog, as well as a specially designed visual presentation for the outdoor amphitheaters that will host the concerts.
“When you play outdoors, a lot of your surroundings already set the tone for you,” he said. “I made this mistake when I was younger trying to force a big arena to turn into a bunch of outdoor shelters and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, we’re wasting all that natural beauty trying to put all that these bells and whistles here.’ So we’re really excited about the summer tour design because it’s classic, it’s going to be beautiful, it’s also going to let a lot of the natural beauty of these places speak, as well as the music, of course.
The evening will also include performances by the venerable Preservation Hall Jazz Band and emerging singer-songwriter Eleri Ward, as well as violinist Lucia Micarelli.
“It’s going to be an evening of gratitude, of really just singing our faces to people again,” Groban said.
7 p.m. July 16. $31 – $191. Cadence Bank Amphitheater in Chastain Park, 4469 Stella Drive, Atlanta. livenation.com.