From the opening swells and drum fills of "Life is Wonderful" to the 8 Minute solo and piano driven opus that is "Song For a Friend", Jason Mraz is quick to remind us that he's come along way since the breakout 2002 hit, "The Remedy". A quick few lines from the Album’s First and unapologetic pop-rock single, "Wordplay", ironically suggest that he's through writing safe pop hits, only to be written off as a John Mayer wannabe. "It's time to get ill, I got your 'Remedy'/for those who don't remember me/ well let me introduce you to my style" and "Is everybody ready for The Single?" sarcastically address his successful past. But this new album suggests something more.
Filled musical flavors from around the world, “Mr. A-Z” is a mixed bag. The album’s second single, “Geek in the Pink” is a hip-hop-funk-acoustic jam that boasts lyrics about originality and being yourself, while the Latin groove feel of “Bella Luna” conveys a love relationship with the moon as a metaphor. “Did You Get My Message?” uses swing style jazz piano, as well as a duel guest vocal from Rachael Yamagata, switching off with Mraz, to tell the dialogue between a set of lovers, one of which is trying to desperately show their longing for the other.
Jason Mraz is no saint either, in that he occasionally boasts in his about his Marijuana use. This is shown in the only other pop-rock song on the album, “Clockwatching”, which is about just drifting the day away doing things to give oneself pleasure in any way. “Smoking often and calling out our guilty pleasures, let’s keep talking…anything to stop clockwatching” is one of the examples of Mraz’s carefree world that we’d probably all like to inhabit. At first glance, this review may make it seem like the album is full of up-tempo numbers, but that is quite far from the truth.
My personal favorite of the album happens to be the epic piano and almost orchestra filled, “Plane”, sung in almost message form to another person who is far away. Jason sings of being in airports and always over the girl’s town as well as how he just wants to be back at her side, something I’m sure many people can relate to. “Mr. Curiosity” is another downer, but one I’m not too fond of.
“O Lover” is a sex song, plain and simple. With lines like “I like your red top and matching bottoms ...you know the ones, the ones you got on,...put ‘em over your skinny self, but don’t cover your tattoo” and “Oh god only knows our contradictions to quitting, is a hate and love relationship thing” mixed with a dark Latin influence provide a sexual bedroom image in the listeners mind. The rest of the album’s songs kind of blur together to me and don’t really stand out., but there are only a few of these luckily.
In a “Behind the Scenes” video on the making of the album, it was revealed that the majority of the recording was done in the mountains and away from most distractions. This is quite evident due to the record’s somber tone, and the vocals on this album are quite good as well as the production and recording aspects. Nothing left to be desired there.
Even though this album wasn’t as nearly successful as “Waiting for my Rocket to Come”, it was clearly more diverse and showed Mraz’s potential and talent for writing in all forms of music. To pass up this 2005 album should be a crime, as it’s a melting pot of love, laziness, and originality, something I think everyone needs in their life. To quote Jason himself, “You might regret what you let slip away, like the Geek in the Pink”. Don’t let him, or this underrated album, slip away.