Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Album Review: Jason Mraz's "Love Is a Four Letter Word"

While I favor a range of music so diverse it seems almost contradictory, I have a particular penchant for music that's produced by singer-songwriters. Maybe it's because meaningful lyrics win me over, or maybe it's because I'm a bit of a talent enthusiast, but I think that albums that are both written and sung by the same person display consummate musicianship, that extra degree of expertise and raw musical ability. As a music lover, I adore the personal edge attached to these songs. The music flows a bit like a conversation and reaches my heart in 2.5 seconds or less.

When it comes to singer-songwriters, Jason Mraz has caught my ear since his arrival on the scene in the early 2000's. His acoustic-infused sound has always been refreshing and great easy listening music. "Mraz's international breakthrough came with the release of the single "I'm Yours" from the album We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. The single peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Mraz his first top ten single. The song was on the Hot 100 for 76 weeks and receiving a 5x platinum certification from the RIAA for sales of over five million." And yes, that is a direct quote from Wikipedia, because this isn't a research paper and I can site whatever I want. I go to Wikipedia for everything. It's like my lifeline in an unofficial game of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. (And don't pretend Wikipedia isn't a major source of knowledge for you...we all know it's like the cliff notes to life so just accept it;)  

So when it comes to singer-songwriter Jason Mraz, how has this artist developed over time, and has he stayed true to his style in his latest album? Keeping much of his same sound, while mixing in new styles, Mraz infuses his songs with a great deal of personal meaning and emotion. The theme of his album revolves around love, which is not surprising since he wrote it while getting engaged and then breaking off the engagement with fellow singer-songwriter Tristan Prettyman. What is surprising is that the album "Love Is A Four Letter Word" celebrates love as something we all need to give and receive, without tones of bitterness or disappointment, but rather heartfelt appreciation and insight. 

As for the style, he still stays true to the simple acoustic sound we recognize from his original albums, but he expands the sound with more instruments and a bluesy edge. It's not your everyday, generic sound, and this is just one of the things that sets Mraz apart from so many other musicians. "I Won't Give Up" is possibly one of my favorite songs from the album. It's beautiful and heartfelt, and packs a great deal of meaning with pure, uncluttered, acoustic sounds. 

Do I recommend "Love Is a Four Letter Word"? Yes, especially for music lovers who appreciate songs with quality lyrics or musicians who aspire to write their own songs and who are looking for a lighter toned album. It's the perfect background track for driving around town with the windows down and soaking up a relaxing, sunny day or for enjoying truly well written lyrics when you need music with a message.

"I Won't Give Up"


"Who's Thinking aboutYou Now?"

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