There’s always something incredibly nostalgic and heartwarming about the classic jazz crooner. For someone like me, who was never alive to experience the golden days of artists like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and the rest of the gang, I can still draw nostalgia from my memories of sitting by the fire in my family home, listening to such tunes from my father’s (and grandmother’s) record collection. Today, the vocal tradition is carried on by notable greats such as Josh Groban and Michael Bublé, but the man who kicked off the modern era of contemporary vocal music surely has to be Harry Connick, Jr.
Harry Connick, Jr. is a man of many talents, or voices, rather. He has just released his latest album, Every Man Should Know, and he takes on the personality of many different characters throughout the record. Granted, all of these characters are the same person – himself – but they represent his person in different situations and stages of life. When talking about the meaning behind the album, Connick says, “I used to be more comfortable writing in a fantasy-style concept, using ideas that intrigued me but didn’t necessarily come from personal experience. It’s one thing to assume the role of a storyteller – it’s quite another when the story is your own. I felt ready to explore some of my personal experiences in some of the songs this time around.”
I think most of us can agree that Josh Groban became a household name after his song “You Raise Me Up” achieved tremendous popularity. Even though it was released nine years ago, Groban still remains unparalleled in his unique brand of operatic pop. Two years later, in 2005, he released his third studio album, entitled Awake. Despite having received groundbreaking recognition for Closer, the previous release, he managed to maintain his strong reputation with the addition of Awake. This album contains everything about the Josh Groban package that makes it desirable – the stunning orchestral arrangements, the spice of international influences, and of course the silky, rapturous voice of the man himself. Not only does he live up to his name with this album, but he also shows that he has an eagerness to continue his musical development.
Although every song on Awake stands out as its own distinctive composition, the one unifying factor between all of them is the smooth clarity of the vocals. At times you may actually find yourself thinking that an angel is residing in your head, relaxing your mind with its soothing tone. Angel or not, the message of this album rings true; music from all corners of the world can come together to create a beautiful product. Each culture has given birth to its own individual form of musical expression, and Groban has seen the opportunity in combining them into a greater whole. One minute you are walking down a windswept alley in the streets of Barcelona, while another you are dancing in the villages of South Africa, but always there remains the familiar presence of your melodious guide.