Josh Groban, the superstar of "popera," has been flirting with more rock-like arrangements and edgier themes ever since he covered Linkin Park's "My December" in 2003 and teamed up with Rick Rubin for 2010's "Illuminations," and with his new single "Brave," he continues to move toward a more rhythmic sound.
"Brave" is the lead single from Groban's upcoming sixth album "All That Echoes," due Feb. 5, 2013. For the set, Groban this time teamed up with an unlikely yet all-too-obvious collaborator - Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls), who became chairman of Groban's label Warner Bros. Records just as Groban was releasing "Illuminations."
"He came to one of my shows on the last tour and he'd done his homework," Groban says of the discussions that led to hiring his label boss to helm his latest album. "We had dinner and he really had some amazing thoughts as to what he liked about what I'd done in the past and what he felt would be a cool place to begin the future. He gave me enough adjectives about where he saw the future of my sound that coincided completely with what I was thinking throughout the entire tour. So we said, 'This seems like on paper maybe not the most obvious thing but let's try it out.'"
Lead single "Brave," which you can hear in the player above, is the latest example of Groban's continued move toward more guitar-based, rhythmic arrangements - the kind he's been trying out on tour for years to surprise his fans. "We wanted the song to have an intensity and an urgency, even if they're in more of a traditional style vocally," Groban says. "The goal was to try and bridge those two worlds."
Co-written with longtime songwriting partner Tawgs Salter ("You Are Loved"), "Brave" also marks Groban's first collaboration with Canadian singer/songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk. "We've always been sniffing around for the right thing to do," Groban says of his friend of many years. "Tawgs and I wrote this melody and she was in the forefront of my mind, so we gave her a couple of ideas and she just flew with it. Tawgs had been playing this riff on a guitar while I was playing on the piano and the first thing I started singing was 'Wake up, wake up.' So from the get-go we felt this was a song about rejuvenation."
Groban recorded over 25 songs for "All That Echoes," which will feature original songs like the Lester Mendez-assisted "False Alarms," which Groban says was initially written for "Illuminations" but "it just wasn't the right situation." Appropriately, the song is about "being in a relationship where you realize that you're doing all the jumping around and need to be a little more zen about letting the right thing come to you." The set will also feature covers of Stevie Wonder's "I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)," Jimmy Webb's "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" and The Swell Season's "Falling Slowly" from the movie and Broadway musical "Once."
"I think Rob saw a lot of potential in my world to branch out to find ways to bring more energy, to bring some of his rock sensibilities but to do it in a way that still feels classic