The KINK Community's Cynthia Orlando, goes to the heart of the matter in her review of surfer-philosopher-musician, Jason Mraz and his latest album.
He's Giving Us Good Vibrations: Jason Mraz's latest release exudes great energy
"Love is a Four Letter Word" is the name of American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz's 4th CD, but maybe he should have just titled it "Love." Released the end of April, how's it doing? Not bad. It's holding its own on Billboard's "Heatseekers" rock-album category, currently sitting at #18 - just below The Lumineer's debut CD, and just above Alabama Shakes' "Boys & Girls."
And of course, the KINK community already well-loves the new hit single, "I Won't Give Up," which Mraz has said isn't just about love…but about life in general. As for the rest of the new release, "Love" is a warm collection of likable tracks sure to perk up the ears of KINK listeners - especially those who gravitate towards songs that enliven and elevate.
Musical high-five's for "The Freedom Song," the opening track of his latest effort. It's the first cover song Mraz has ever included on a studio album, and was penned by Lue Reynaud along with several children in the midst of Hurricane Katrina. "The Freedom Song" is a fun, inviting opener to get things rolling and set the tone. Guitar, keyboards, sax, drums, a reggae beat, trumpet, even trombone are pulled into this mix for a sound full of celebration.
Like to download a little zen philosophy with your pop music? The gently uplifting "Living in the Moment" might just resemble that remark. "Got peace in my soul / Wherever I'm going / I'm already home," sings Mraz. It's a bright, sunny, lighthearted arrangement with Mraz's great vocals that's perfect for prime-time…let's hope it will get a little radio airplay.
Another winning combination? The acoustic guitar, gentle drums and expressive vocals of "93 Million Miles." Within the confines of a 3 1/2 minute pop track, Mraz deftly calls to mind our place in the universe here at "home," planet earth - and, the importance of staying centered by making "home" where our hearts are.
From underdog to chart record-breaker
Originally from Virginia, Mraz relocated to the San Diego coffee house scene in 2000. After touring a while, he released 2 albums. His second release, "Mr. A-Z," sold more than 100,000 copies in the U.S.
A bigger breakthrough came in 2008 with the success of "I'm Yours," the hit single from his third effort, "We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things." Nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 2009, "I'm Yours" lost out to John Mayer's "Say" that year. Nonetheless, it appears Mraz had the last word. His irresistibly honest, cleverly sung "I'm Yours" remained on Billboard's "Hot 100" chart for a record 76 weeks. It was also - as of January 2012 - the eighth best-selling digital song of all time in the U.S., selling more than 6 million downloads.
There's a sensuous vibe to the new pop-infused release that draws us in, in a lovely, relaxing kind of way. That's likely owing to the tempo on most of the tracks, which Mraz describes as "the rhythm of the heartbeat (that) takes precedence on most of this record."
The song "5/6," for example, and its "go-with-the-flow" message about being authentic, loose, and flexible, has a strong, jazzy ambience that's almost seductive. "When you're in the mood, baby / Hear just what your heart has to say / When the world is turning topside and turvy then you better hurry down / To the bottom of your soul / Get down, get it all, and be loved." Sounds good, doesn't it? His warm, starry-eyed "Whose Thinking About You Now?" is also dreamy and evocative.
In an interview posted on artistdirect.com, Mraz shares that he wrote "about 80" tracks from which these 12 tracks were selected. If the chosen tracks have anything in common it's that they all lift us up. "I dabble in the melancholy but I try not to live there," said Mraz in an aol.com interview with Neil Patrick Harris. We're glad he made that choice.
The final track, his sweet, smooth "The World As I See It," embraces us with a bear hug of instrumentation; guitars, drums, and an arrangement for strings. It's great ambience that inspires and moves us. He sneaks in a whole second half to the song, but at 8:47 long, it's not exactly clear why he just didn't give that second half a different title.
No worries, though, because hey, we're all "living in the moment" now, and it all seems to work.
You can check out his website, including upcoming US summer concert dates, as well as fall Europe concert dates HERE.