Picks and Pans Review: Josh Groban

updated 11/13/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/13/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST

Awake
POP-CLASSICAL

On this, his third studio album, "popera" star Josh Groban seems determined to show that he is not just a classical geek. He enlisted onetime Madonna and Björk collaborator Marius de Vries to produce several tracks, and cowrote songs with Dave Matthews, Five for Fighting's John Ondrasik and alt-pop darling Imogen Heap. While he has some success letting his curly hair down, the tenor stumbles when he ventures into Graceland territory with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on "Weeping," while coming off too stiff on "Machine," a misguided jazz-pop turn featuring Herbie Hancock. In the end, Groban is still all about the tunes that are guaranteed to make Grandma swoon.

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