Virginian-born wannabe southern Californian Jason Mraz brings across the Atlantic a host of different influences and comparisons with his new album Waiting For My Rocket To Come.
His expressive voice leads you into the opener You and I Both, a laid-back number celebrating a relationship that may or may not have ended, giving early indications of Mraz’s melodic capabilities. I’ll Do Anything continues in the laid-back vein, with his verses becoming increasingly packed with word and wit, contrasted with the more spacious choruses, which brings me to The Remedy (I Won’t Worry), the single, which contains melodic raps in the verses leading into a glorious wave-your-arms in-the-air chorus.
Mraz combines a pop sensibility with his jazz-blues stylings, his original idea being “music to sleep by”. An idea illustrated by slower songs Who Needs Shelter, dissecting the working lifestyle, and Absolutely Zero, where he is in fine voice, suitably gentle and seductive.
He’s been compared to artists such as John Mayer, Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson, and Tracy Chapman (who he supported on tour), and American college-rockers OAR, which may have something to do with their shared producer John Alagia.
He also brings to mind later songs by Ani Difranco in their jazziness, like the Rhodes solo in No Stopping Us, and the muted trumpet in the closing Tonight, Not Again, based on a poem.
Touches like the banjo and the horn section, the girls in Curbside Prophet, coupled with his diverse singing styles help to highlight Mraz’s versatility both vocally and musically, equally at home on the upbeat hip hop pop songs like the single The Remedy or the slower songs like The Boy’s Gone.
Bringing a fresh sound to the party will hopefully bring Mraz the attention he deserves, and make him stand out among the crowd. A very diverse, summery record, from an artist to watch.