Album Reviews

Jason Mraz – We Sing We Dance We Steal Things

(Warners) UK release date: 9 June 2008

The trouble with Jason Mraz is that he has no concept of how much cheese is too much cheese. And with each album, the California-based singer songwriter becomes even closer to actually turning in to a cheesy wotsit.

Album opener Make It Mine is a kind of lounge jazz, Jamiroquai-lite little ditty. The kind of niche pop song that is too different for the mainstream but not different enough for the people who actually like that kind of music to accept as one of their own.

The single I’m Yours comes next, with classic lines like “you’re so hot that I melted” and more be-bop-a-bada-boos than a scat convention. On its own, it’s cute and sweet like a kitten with a tiara on. But when the other songs on the album are like a puppy in a fireman suit and bunnies in tutus, it’s just something else to make you wonder why people think it’s cool to dress up their pets in human clothes.

A duet with Colbie Caillat called Lucky ups the cheese rating another few million notches, and isn’t a patch on the previous album’s duet with Rachael Yamagata.

On Live High, Mraz just sounds like a happy hippy, blissfully unaware with his choir friends that most people find music this cheery and contented to be downright annoying. Maybe it works in the States, but it’s hard to see stony-faced Britain embracing such worry-free giddiness. It’s like Hakuna Matata for grown-ups. And grown-ups don’t want a Hakuna Matata.

A duet with James Morrison is a jolly good marketing ploy for hitting the UK, but the song – which gets kudos for being the least cheesy and most lovely track on the album – is about as catchy as a Sigur Ros b-side. It’s a nice lullaby, but it’s no You Give Me Something.

To make up for the lack of cheese on Details In The Fabric, Coyotes features little bits of opera singing and lots of rapping. Ohhhhhh yes.

Jason Mraz may pride himself on writing and recording happy music, but when you make McFly sound like a bunch of miserable gits, well, maybe you’re just taking things a bit too far.

Fortunately there’s one absolute gem on this album to rescue it from the cringe bin – closing track A Beautiful Mess – a bursting ballad reminiscent of Waiting For My Rocket To Come’s Absolutely Zero. The list of co-writers on this track suggests that what Jason Mraz needs is the input of others to stop him from skipping off into the cloud cuckoo land of songwriting.

He’s always going to be an interesting singer songwriter, who brings in different influences and all sorts with every album, but with this album Jason Mraz is a little hit or miss (mostly miss). It doesn’t make us any less intrigued to hear what he’ll do next, though, as even on his weakest tracks he always shows the potential of a musician whose next song might just be the most amazing piece of pop music you’ve ever heard.

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More on Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz – We Sing We Dance We Steal Things
Jason Mraz – Mr A-Z
Interview: Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz – Waiting For My Rocket To Come