With a new album and tour, Josh Groban is back singing a more familiar tune
“Bridges” is a fitting title for Josh Groban’s latest album, considering how many he has crossed in recent years. A multi-platinum award-winning singer who’s been recognized on the world stage for over 15 years, Groban made an auspicious Broadway debut in 2016’s “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” nabbing a Tony nod for his lead turn. And just this past September, he landed his first regular TV series role, starring opposite Tony Danza in Netflix’s “The Good Cop.”
By comparison, setting out on a nationwide arena tour this fall in support of “Bridges” — with Tony-winning “Wicked” star Idina Menzel opening — feels to Groban something like slipping into a familiar old suit and discovering it still fits him neatly. Ahead of the “Believe” singer’s TD Garden stop Friday, Groban spoke from his Los Angeles home — where he was happily savoring the last days of a much-needed “staycation” with his longtime canine companion, Sweeney — about how the recent side ventures informed one of his most dynamic discs to date.
Q. Unexpectedly, “Bridges” and “The Good Cop” ended up arriving on the same Friday at the end of September. What it was like to be working on both around the same time?
A. This album happened in chunks. I got the ball rolling right before I started “Great Comet of 1812.” I’d come off tour; I’d spent almost two years recording and touring a music theater album, doing all cover songs. Naturally, during the course of that, you start to come up with fresh ideas for what you want to do next. At the end of the “Stages” tour, I felt pretty ready to dive in and start working on a new album, and of course that ended up leading to a different conversation about doing a Broadway debut. By the time that ended, after so many years at a dressing room piano, I felt even more ready. I had so many ideas for what I wanted to record. So we went into the studio, and wrote, and recorded around 10 demos.
Soon after, I got a letter from somebody who would change my life in another way: [“The Good Cop” creator] Andy Breckman. He said, “Hey, I’ve got this show. This’ll come as a surprise, but I’m thinking about you for the lead character. Can I buy you some pancakes?”
Q. Based on that stop-and-start process you’re describing, was there a fear the album would sound disjointed?
A. It was actually the opposite. Every time I had a chance to switch gears, recharge my tank, and do something fulfilling creatively in a different way, it gave me just that much more energy to go in and beat the things we’d done prior to that experience. It was a very organic burst, working on these songs.
Q. How would you describe the new sound?
A. One of the things my 2015 “Stages” album did was bring the focus back to my voice. I had spent a couple of years deeply focused on building my strengths as a songwriter and widening my lane as a song interpreter and chooser. You come off one of the greatest-selling Christmas albums of all time [2007’s “Noël”], and you think to yourself, “I immediately need to write a new chapter.” In doing that, I perhaps put to the side the responsibility of making sure first and foremost I was coming at these as the best-possible singer I could be. To me, [“Bridges”] was the perfect balance of everything I learned from strengthening my abilities as a songwriter and song interpreter, and then also returning to form in vocal interpretation, not being afraid to go to a certain place vocally that I maybe shied away from for a few years.
Q. In the past, you’ve spoken highly of your dog Sweeney as an unusual musical collaborator. How does he fit into your creative process?
A. He’s been in the studio for every song. He’s at my feet basically for every vocal. His favorite thing since he was a puppy is to lay under the piano when I’m playing. And he knows, too, when I’m working on creative stuff or just playing video games. He has no patience if I’m just wasting time; he will give me the worst stink eye known to man. But if he knows it’s music writing or recording time, he’ll just lay on his back or under the piano, and he’s good company for as long as we need to go.
With Idina Menzel. At TD Garden, Boston, Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. Tickets $49.50-$199.50, www.ticketmaster.com