Picking up where his last hit “I Won’t Give Up”, Jason Mraz keeps with the inspirational love songs on his fifth album, Yes! When he started his career, he was much more focused on acoustic ditties that would be sung around a beach campfire, including his biggest hit, “I’m Yours”. Lately, Jason has pushed himself in a new and challenging direction with a more ambitious sound. The acoustic guitar is not the standout instrument at all across the tracklist.
After a 90-second opening called “Rise”, which sounds like an orchestra and vocalists warming up, he launches into “Love Someone”, the first single which absolutely has the feel of “I Won’t Give Up”. The song has a sweet swelling effect that will make hearts (and movie and TV soundtracks) swoon. I’d bet money it’s featured on So You Think You Can Dance this summer.
Jason seems very aware that male singer-songwriters who play the guitar are a dime a dozen. To stand out from the crowd he has teamed up with Raining Jane, a pop-rock girl group, who supply vocals on most of the tracks. The female singers bring major personality to the proceedings on tracks like “Long Drive” and “Best Friend”.
Jason’s neverending gushing love is a little nauseating across 13 tracks, but the fantastic production masks that one-note lyrics quite well. When the production isn’t fantastic, the sappiness soaks through like on “Everywhere”, “Quiet”, and “A World With You”.
The standout moments are the simply beautiful “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye To Yesterday”, the irresistible “3 Things”, and the interesting 6-minute closer, “Shine”. With its indian influences, the track has a slow build that makes it worthy of its epic length.
Yes! shows Jason Mraz isn’t fading away any time soon because he’s not complacent in his sound. He’s still challenging himself and pushing himself in new directions, and that’s not always the case for an artist who has been around for more than a decade.