Bringing Josh Groban's majestic yet intimate voice to Christmas music is truly a gift this holiday season. The young adult contemporary star's latest studio album brings together the traditional such as _Silent Night_ with the contemporary such as _I'll Be Home For Christmas_ and the new _Thankful_.
Featuring duets with country music's *Faith Hill* and R and B's *Brian McKnight*, the album's wide appeal promises that a timeless Christmas music classic will be beneath the tree this year.
Groban's previous album, 2006's "Awake", hit #2 on the pop chart and is nearing double-platinum status. 2003's "Closer" #1 on the pop charts and has become certified quadruple-platinum.
The Grammy-nominated, twenty-something, pop-classical phenomenon's fourth studio album is an expertly accomplished entry to the holiday marketplace. Noël
tackles the familiar sounds of holiday music with a charmingly eclectic array of guest vocalists and a wide range of material. The songs range from the sacred to the secular, while Groban--buoyed in spots by none other than the London Symphony Orchestra--soars in his duets with Brian McKnight, Faith Hill, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. There's even a song with a gospel choir directed by Kirk Franklin. Produced yet again by crossover maestro David Foster, the arrangements never overwhelm the songs. Groban's smooth and supple vocals can be hard to categorize--seeing how his range is somewhere in-between a high baritone and a low tenor--but he always finds and emphasizes the emotional core of these songs. And whether they have origins in pop or classical music seems not to matter. The addition of messages from troops stationed in Iraq on top of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" is undeniably heart-wrenching, while the album's highlight is its most spare song, "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," which finds Groban alone at his piano, sounding very much like some kind of angel. --Mike McGonigal