Jason Mraz, "Love is a Four Letter Word" (Atlantic)
Jason Mraz is true to the title of his new album, singing about all kinds of love on "Love is a Four Letter Word."
The 33-year-old singer-songwriter explores romantic notions, familial bonds and big, universal love on his fourth studio release. He also expands his folk-pop sensibilities to include reggae and jazz rhythms layered with horns and vocal harmonies.
Mraz is at his best with his guitar and silky, lilting voice front and center, as on the soaring "93 Million Miles," where he sings reassuringly, "Just know you're never alone; you can always come back home."
He continues that theme of connection on the happy sing-along "Everything is Sound," the single "I Won't Give Up" and the upbeat "Living in the Moment," singing, "Wherever I'm going, I'm already home."
Mraz gets jazzy as he pleads for truth on "Be Honest" and sings about the joy of music on the reggae-flavored album opener, "The Freedom Song." He offers an admiring tribute to his grandfather on "Frank D. Fixer," which closes with a rollicking harmonica solo.
The songs about heartache don't detract from the optimistic vibe of this 12-song collection, which Mraz has described as "personal, melodic and mellow."
CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: Mraz digs into a groovy, lounge-like sound and occasionally stretches his voice into a falsetto on "5/6."