Monday 16 April 2012

Jason Mraz - Love Is A Four Letter Word

Mr A-Z is known for his mellow tunes.  And his latest album is typically laid back.  Too laid back.

Gone are the days of his upbeat funk tracks in favour of a Radio 2 friendly snore-fest that's more likely to please your Mum.  Like his previous work, Love Is A Four Letter Word mixes elements of country, jazz and funk but leans too heavily on the lounge-jazz.  The result is a slice of pop-easy-listening that at times hints at his past glory and at others goes a bit Olly Murs.

Recent single I Won't Give Up is the main highlight, a country ballad that's a little overtly sentimental but easily to relate to.  Unfortunately this lyric style is sustained throughout, ranging from the romantic to the absurd.  The cleverly intricate and rhythmic wordplay is gone for a more flowing melodic style.  This certainly offers a chance for a sing-along, but on tracks like Everything Is Sound with its "Hallelujah" chorus it feels more like an American church group outing to the forest, singing round the campfire and cooking marshmallows.

Then there's the production, which fails to make up for the lyrical lack of interest.  Almost every track is a slow ballad, all acoustic guitars, gentle percussion, lilting strings and the occasional funked up bass.  It's certainly a warm, mellow sound but the album is missing both an irresistible pop effort (an I'm Yours equivalent) and the soft rock of earlier album 'Waiting For My Rocket To Come'.  What undoubtedly impresses though is Mraz's vocal.  Smooth and soft, he rises through to falsetto with effortless ease and adds an emotional content the music is overall lacking.  This extends to some rich vocal harmonies, particularly in bonus track I'm Coming Over.

In essence, Mraz has lost his cool.  His talent as a musician still rings true, but his sense of fun is M.I.A, replaced by soppy lounge-jazz.  A good album to fall asleep to.


Gizzle's Choice:
* I Won't Give Up
* I'm Coming Over (the secret track!)

Listen: 'Love Is A Four Letter Word' is available now.

Watch: Mraz is touring the world all year, arriving in London in December.