Jason Mraz’s career shot off with his last album and his single “I’m Yours,” as I’m sure even the most casual of music fans know. I loved Jason’s music since “The Remedy” was new, and I actually prefer his somewhat white boy soft rap that was his style before. One of my ex-boyfriends was the same way, and he turned me on to this song, which actually is one of my favorite to this day of Jason’s, “Geek in the Pink.”

He’s so cute and happy and fun in this video and song that I’m drawn to him. This is the part of his demeanor that makes me feel like it’s alright to just call him Jason in this post, whereas most celebrities, I would call by their full or last name. This is not the vibe Jason Mraz gives off, and that’s why we love him. I did not put this previous video just because I love it, I do, but mostly I put it in to illustrate a point. This is the Jason that went on to make the slightly reggae inspired “I’m Yours” that so many people connected to. This is the Jason who makes people feel good. That is not the Jason who put out his new CD.

I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s not. Love Is A Four Letter Word is still a good album even, but it is not what I love about Jason Mraz. It’s been pretty highly publicized that this album’s songs reflect a pretty serious breakup in Jason’s life, (as does his scruffy new hair and beard.. Yeah, there’s a little judgement attached to that statement; you were adorable Jason! Lose the hair.) And this is exactly what it feels like. Unfortunately, Jason is no Adele, and his breakup CD is not transcendent. Instead of feeling empowered as Adele seems to leave you, you feel kind of sad with him. This isn’t always a bad thing, I have a playlist I call “Calm” which is literally just kind of sad, calm music. There are songs I put on because I need to cry and I know they will make me. Some of these songs could join that list. But it is still not what I love about Jason’s music.

The first two songs are really good. Still somewhat upbeat. The first song “The Freedom Song” is actually one of my favorites off the whole thing, and the sort of big band/jazz instrumentals work really well with that sort of reggae beat he gravitates to. The second song, “Living in the Moment,” while good, is a perfect example of the songs are still his style but not. It’s still that kind of characteristic beat, but it never quite reaches a place of happiness, and no amount of cheerful whistling is going to take it there.

“The Woman I Love” is the best emotional song on the album in my opinion, better than “I Won’t Give Up.” It is pretty slow for him, very much straight up singing, not his fast-paced style (most of the CD is this in fact,) but the sentiment is really lovely, and it is very well-executed for being a romantic sort of anthem. A man singing this song to me would be really romantic.

“Everything Is Sound” is another pretty noticeably good song, again there’s a degree of that big band sound in there. It probably comes the closest to embodying the sound of “We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things,” but brings you back to a somewhat sad note with him singing an acoustic chorus at the end.

“The World As I See It” is the only other truly notable song on the album; it’s pretty upbeat and sounds like more of his old music, but again he never quite goes for the energy or the high notes.

The best part of the album is that the Deluxe Edition has a demo and four live songs. I’m not usually a huge fan of live songs; I love going to live shows, but live songs are usually not as well performed or as put together, with the exception of true improvisational masters like John Mayer, who I prefer live in his trio, and Jack White.

That being said, Jason Mraz is fabulous on these live tracks. The passion and sound in the live version of “The World As I See It” is distinctly better in my opinion, even though in this case, the live version is slower, possibly an illusion from being all acoustic, and calmer than the album’s version. But he sounds amazing! Not only that, but his live banter is so good. He’s hilarious and you can hear that Jason I love that I described above in him when he’s talking. It seems like all his sadness is poured into this album, and that his personality is still what I loved. Also, the second live song, “You Fckn Did It” is that fast-paced sound, and it is hilarious, and by far my favorite part of the entire album. This is a different live performance of that song, camera work is a little crazy, but it’s worth it:

I am left overall, not displeased, but slightly disappointed. However, I am left by the live songs assured that the Jason I love still exists, and that I just need to wait and hope that he cheers up and balances between this calm-somewhat-jazz-singer-self and his old reggae-white-boy-rapping-self.

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