In the final track of his latest LP, Jason Mraz sings, “The world as I see it is a remarkable place.”
He is not lying. His album Love Is A Four Letter Word is very optimistic, and Mraz isn’t apologetic about it at all.
This optimism is set right away in the first two tracks. “The Freedom Song”, one of the faster songs in this ballad-dominated LP, opens up the album quite nicely. This is a gospel-tinged tuned that will make you smile AND dance foolishly. The use of horns keep the mood upbeat. “Living In the Moment” starts with a whistle and again reinforces the optimistic mood of the album.
‘Love’ is not just about optimism, though; the album also touches on relationships — or to be more specific, enduring relationships. The first single “I Won’t Give Up” is about fighting for a relationship against all odds. It’s a nice (although slightly somber) track. “The Woman I Love” has a lighter production, but basically talks about the same thing. Here, Mraz coos, “You can relax, ’cause babe I got your back.” It’s a very sincere song that lyrically reminds me a bit of Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are.”
The most prominent theme in this album — perhaps as alluded by the title — is love. Not the romantic, barf-inducing type, but just love in general. “Everything Is Sound”, another feel-good midtempo, has a cool vibe that reminds me a lot of breezy, summer nights. The horns make a return here, although in a more subtle way. The “a-la-la-halleluiah”s invite the listener to singalong.
While ‘Love’ is an enjoyable album, some of the songs eventually start sounding alike. “In Your Hands” and “Be Honest” are nice, slow tracks that some might forget about. Mraz walks the fine line between being consistent and boring — and I think that towards the end, he was in the latter’s territory.
This is still a very solid effort though, and I would even venture to say that it’s a brave record. In the post-Gaga age, pop stars are so desperate for attention that they are all releasing similar-sounding songs. Not Mraz though. ‘Love’ is an organic, sincere album that fans will appreciate.
Mraz also shows his talents in incorporating outside influences, as demonstrated by the soulful “Who’s thinking about you now”. This isn’t just a pop album with a lot of acoustic guitar. Gospel, RnB, and even a little of reggae show up in subtle doses. Mraz sees the the beauty in the world, and by the end of this album, you probably will, too.