review Marla Cantrell
Jason Mraz: $12
Every year, just as the fall leaves become too majestic to ignore, I take a road trip. Just me. Just my car. Just the music I love. Always, always, I have James Taylor playing, and David Gray, and Bonnie Raitt. This year I’m adding Jason Mraz, particularly his latest album, Yes!
That’s what I was thinking as I listened to these songs, all but one (Boys II Men’s “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday”) written with girl band, Raining Jane. This is such a victorious acoustic compilation. Mraz said he wanted to go back to the beginning in this album, back when the Grammy winner played coffee shops, accompanied by an acoustic guitar.
Teaming up with Raining Jane, a band that’s been together for fifteen years, helped him find his footing. Mraz said his goal was to create something meaningful, something that could heal wounds, that could reflect love, to give back to the listeners who’ve made him a success.
The music he’s come up with will make you want to sing along. It is, for the most part, happy, toe-tapping fare, songs for celebration. If you’re in love or want to be, “Long Drive” is the perfect track. It’s about a couple on a date, driving in a Chevy Nova, holding hands, not wanting to get home, wanting to go the long way, through the city, out into the country, anywhere as long as they can make the night last forever.
“Love Someone” is one of the best on the album. Mraz’s voice is perfect: mellow, soft as a pillow, gorgeous. An older fan’s recent post on the singer’s website called his sound a mix of Cat Stevens, Don McClean and John Denver. It’s a good description, and these lyrics are spot on. “When you love someone, your heart beats, beats so loud. When you love someone, your feet can’t feel the ground.”
“Hello, You Beautiful Thing” celebrates life, the daily living that most of us push through, or ignore, or get so busy we miss it. Mraz seems to be comforting us. It’s going to be a good day, he tells us, just believe it, just notice.
The lessons continue in “3 Things,” a song about what to do when your life falls apart. First you cry, but then you should go somewhere you know you’re loved. Finally, you need to let the chapter end, and then try once again.
It’s a great pleasure to listen to music like this. Mraz said that when he’s touring — he’s purposely playing smaller venues with this album so that he can feel close to his fans — he sometimes has a bad day. That ends, though, once he starts singing these songs. It’s hard to feel sorrow in the presence of such happy music, especially for the creator of it.
“Best Friend,” is where the cello stands out, where the acoustic guitar shines. It’s a beautiful tribute to love. But the best is “Quiet,” a song contemplating our changing landscape, the rising cell towers, the growing towns, and how madly the world spins, until we find the right person to quiet everything down.
If you’re feeling down, this is the album that will lift you up. If you’re already happy, Yes! will make you absolutely ecstatic.