Album Review: Jason Mraz – Love Is a Four Letter Word

“It’s not hard for me to love you”

Peace. Love. Happiness. Finding melodies that truly illustrate these words in their purest form can sometimes be hard to find. An artist willing to share their own story of success – to be able to achieve what we all desire in our lifetime – can be even more of a rarity. Anyone can write a love song. Yet there is something about the way Jason Mraz combines his authentic lyrics and intricate strains of music that generates clear, raw emotion. He writes honestly – like a man in love, at a point in his life where every piece of the puzzle finally fits together. He creates a world with this album, where mankind has moved into a state of tranquility, where every soul holds hands and sings the song inside their heart. You want to live there, if only for just a day. Gone is the gritty realism we’d come to expect from our favorite curbside prophet. In its place lies the laid back, mellow side of Jason Mraz.

Love Is a Four Letter Word is the next chapter from Mr. A-Z, this being his fourth studio album. Die hard fans – that would be me – have been fervently waiting for this highly anticipated record since 2008’s We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things.

When you first listen to the album, you will unmistakably notice the mixture of styles, an amalgamation of Mraz’s previous recordings. The artist has evolved, providing us with something discrete, though distinctly intertwined with a sense of familiarity. The vocals are outstanding, but why would we expect anything different? Those looking for the contrast of integrated Pop/Rock style, like Mraz’s first two records, might be disappointed. The album is primarily Pop. Nevertheless, I have to commend Mraz for always bringing something unique and unknown to us each and every time. Admittedly, the record takes a few listens to truly comprehend. In the end, you’ll find the repetition, undoubtedly, worth your time.

As always, I want to hear what you have to say about the album. Head down to the comments and write down your thoughts. I’ll be there in just a minute. For now, how about a track-by-track review?

Freedom Song: This stylish Jazz-Pop cover of Luc & the Lovingtons original tune is a classic feel-good melody. The intent to sway and dance is strong with every spin of the chorus, every soulful croon from the surrounding trio of voices. Vivacious trumpets and horns standout amongst the crowd, adding life and energy to the jovial introductory track. We’ve heard Mraz sing this tune before, on a previously released EP; this version being a more fulfilling, vibrant counterpart to the live recording. With each grouping of the song’s straightforward lyrics, we begin to understand a motto. Sing! Be a part of the powerful music heartbeat. Be free.

Living In the Moment: A tuneful whistle opens this jovial, simplistic number – as overlapping vocals create the introspective central refrain: live life to the fullest, without regrets. This universal objective makes the song undeniably relatable, while the buoyant melodies make us want to sing along. It’s easy to imagine yourself surrounded by friends, relaxing on the beach – the sun on your face and the wind in your hair – while Jason Mraz is singing this lighthearted ditty, encouraging us to just let go.

The Woman I Love: After hearing this track, I assure you, every woman will want their man to sing this honest, uncomplicated love song to them. With a surprising mixture of Country and Pop, The Woman I Love blends truth with small slices of humor. The Country styled twang of the piano takes precedence over the signature classic guitar, something we’re not really used to hearing from Mraz. It’s the candid sincerity that will make you want to listen to this charming tune multiple times. “With my hand behind you, I will catch you if you fall. Yeah, I’m gonna love you like the woman I love.”

I Won’t Give Up: By the time the album was released last week, many of us had heard a good portion of the songs, as several tracks had been filtered through beforehand. I Won’t Give Up had been the first official single, given to fans as a teaser for what was to come. Ever the romanticist, Mraz speaks of love: an all-embracing truth, essential to understand. The sweet and tremendously romantic hymn takes you to a place we all, at one time, experience. A true love-song, I Won’t Give Up is one of those quintessential anthems that will be a favorite played at all of Mraz’s live shows. Admittedly, it took several listens for me to truly embrace the endearing tune. Now, I can’t seem to get enough. The harmonies and lyrics are flawless, making you want to smile, then sigh in contentment. The middle break, shifting from a soft chant to a swift succession of lines, transforms into a passionate gospel-like chorus, ending with Mraz’s parting words. “I won’t give up on us, even if the skies get rough. I’m giving you all my love. I’m still looking up.”

5/6If you were to find yourself in a Jazz club around 1965 or so, you might find this song playing in the background. Also known as Be Love, 5/6 is, indeed, worthy of its own mood lighting. A definite highlight on the new record, with classic Mraz swagger and style. It’s the kind of song he’s known for, the ingenious symbolic lyrics twisted into entertaining quips. Laced with R&B style, underlining strings, and a echoed vocal finish, 5/6 is one that will have you dancing long into the night.

Everything Is Sound: Somewhere, in the California sunshine, someone is singing this song. It’s the essential Pop song; a song that makes you want to wave your hands and sing with your friendsStrange as it might seem to some, you really need this type of lighthearted, happy-go-lucky anthem traveling through your brain on repeat once in a while. It’s good for the soul. So, “Let’s sing to be happy.” I guarantee you’ll find yourself reiterating the tune’s trademark “La la la la‘s” hours or days after first listening to the joyful, Everything Is Sound. My favorite part of the track is the winsome unplugged repetition of the song’s chorus, with just the smooth vocals our favorite musician and some of his buddy’s. You’ll love its misty sound and immediately wish for an acoustic version to sing along with.

93 Million Miles: There is a sure sense of comfort when you listen this tale, of attaining the knowledge you gain on your personal journey through life. It embraces you like a warm hug, the feeling of warmth and comfort only achieved from friends and family. Reflections of life, from good times to bad, are focused in the effortless lyrics. “Just know, you’re never alone, you can always come back home.” The truth of it is, this song is simply beautiful – a perfect road-trip song.

Frank D. Fixer: Imagine traveling down a country road on the outskirts of Mechanicsville, Virgina; or a backyard barbecue, listening to the fun story-song of Frank D. Fixer. It’s a perfect fit, isn’t it? The only song on the album where you can scream, “Harmonica solo!” If you listen closely, you’ll see the song as Mraz’s own version of Fix You; or you might hear the story of a man wanting to be a fixer, just like his grandfather. The track is somewhat forgettable, easily forced out of sight by the other songs on the album. However, the folk inspired melodies and lyrics are reminiscent of some of our other favorite Jason Mraz story-songs.

Who’s Thinking About You Now?: Another highlight on the record, this Jazz-Pop ballad accentuates Mraz’s smooth, swift vocals and exceptional song writing skills. Epic strings, an electric guitar, and a gentle piano take part in the seemingly 60’s/70’s era theme. The music tells a story. It’s easy to envision hundreds of candles flickering in the dim light as couples dance slowly, close in each others arms, while the song plays out. The powerful chorus contrasts deeply with the smooth opening, but is welcomed with open arms. I think this has to be one of my favorites on the album.

In Your Hands: When listening to In Your Hands, I can assure you, you’ll have the need to immediately get yourself a glass of wine, finding the urge to cuddle with your loved one. The vocals are almost hypnotic, smooth like caramel. The song speaks of love lost – longing and wanting. “Taking autumn walks in Central Park, they were made for two. Afternoon naps have never felt so crappy. What’s missing in my life is you. So I’ll leave it in your hands now.” 

Be Honest: Featuring Inara George, Be Honest almost sounds like a retro track. I’m still unsure why it reminds me of those classic 1960’s Christmas specials. There is a definite island lounge theme, complete with xylophone. The tune is simple. It doesn’t apologize for what it is. The acoustic guitar, the centerpiece of the song initially, lulls us into a calming state. My favorite line: “If you decide you wanna move into a new stage, deleting me from pages in your mission statement. My love is unconditional, make no mistake.”

The World As I See It: The first thirty seconds of this song make you feel as if you’ve been catapulted into space, or at least, waiting in line for Space Mountain. And who doesn’t love that ride? Underlying strings and guitar connect, slowly transforming into a wonderful dance track. There is a slight familiarity to the song, a somewhat brother to Life Is Wonderful. At times, the echo of Mraz’s voice reminded me of the Carpenters signature paralleled vocals. This is definitely another one of my favorites on the record. The sweet repetition of “It’s not hard for me to love you. No, it’s not a difficult thing,” is addictive. You’ll want to listen to the track again and again.

I’m Coming Over: A hidden track on the album, I’m Coming Over, comes as a pleasant surprise. The tone of the record, to an extent, shifts with this song inclusion. Mraz is surrounded by a symphony of voices, a collective of harmonies. The chorus – a promise to a lover – repeating, “I’m coming over tonight.” It’s a perfect closer.

Album Rating: B+

To purchase your very own copy of Love Is a Four Letter Word visit iTunes HERE

For more Jason Mraz visit his official website HERE

What did you think of Love Is a Four Letter Word? Love it? Obsessed with it? What’s your favorite track on the record? What’s your favorite Jason Mraz song? Favorite Jason Mraz album? Tell me in the comments!

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