Straight to You
Groban's Rick Rubin-produced album, his first since a quintuple-platinum 2007 Christmas set, opens with a delicately rustic prelude, followed by an ode to holiday church bells in snowy Manhattan. From there the subject matter spreads out: perils of upper-crust romance, a Galileo history lesson, a tribute to fallen soldiers. Two of three foreign language songs tend toward weighty virtuoso voice workouts, but Carlinhos Brown helps turn the Portuguese one unusually percussive. Groban's poperatic baritone reaches some tenor notes before he winds down with the Anglican high-mass "London Hymn."