Sunday, December 2, 2012

#134: Jason Mraz - Mr. A-Z (2005)

I decided to review back to back Mraz albums both as a test to see if I enjoy the format better, and more importantly to find the precise moment of growth between albums. I think his first two albums (this being the second) are much more similar to each other than his other records. During the touring of this album, Jason opened for Tracy Chapman, Alanis Morissette, and even a few dates for the stones.

Geek in the Pink
It's laundry day. It's an amazingly fun song. The guitar is smooth yet funky, the bass is dirty and wet, and the rhodes is silky and chill. It's incredibly well produced. There's so much going on and yet it all fits so well. However, as always, it's Mraz's vocals that really push this track. The lyrics are sharp and to the point and they flow perfectly from phrase to phrase. When you think of Mraz what songs do you think of? 'I'm Yours', 'The Remedy', 'I Won't Give Up'? This song will challenge that idea of what Mraz does as a musician. When I think of Mraz, this is the first track I think of. It's a bit left of normal for him but it's also the perfect culmination of all his best traits.

Did You Get My Message?
What an amazing track. I honestly forgot how good this album was. I remember all these songs so vividly and yet I'm still entranced by every moment. The harmonies are both subdued and expertly placed. I'm not huge on duets but Mraz has two of my absolute favorites, this track and 'Lucky'. Then again, this isn't a normal duet. It's has very upbeat, rock feel to it. Mraz is the master of one of the lost arts: good ad libbing. Throughout the album, but particularly on this track from 2:10 - 2:19 showcases just how good of a musician he is. As a listener, I already love the song but this nonsense he sings becomes my favorite part of the track. In writing this review I finally discovered who provides the amazing female vocals, it's none other than the wonderful, talented Rachael Yamagata.

Please Don't Tell Her
One of my absolute favorite Mraz songs. As I get older, I enjoy listening to oddly specific lyrics. It makes the story much more vivid, more real, more believable. He could throw in several lies to spice it up and I wouldn't care a bit. The music is solid and as always the melody is just incredibly well crafted. I enjoy the standard Mraz quick lyrics flowing in and out but the musical emotion on this track is unparalleled to any other on the record. Then after a flurry of specific lyrics you get this absolute universal gem: "Please don't tell her, that I've been meaning to miss her... Because I don't."

All in all, the man simply doesn't get enough credit. Music like this shouldn't be classified as pop, only because in this era pop has a few negative connotations to it. Sure, it's pop - but the musicianship is excellent. Not only are the songs better on this album than his début, it's also incredibly more consistent. The worst tracks on this album still provide a very enjoyable listen.

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