Jason Mraz: “Know.” (Atlantic)

  From the second I heard the opening ukulele notes of “I’m Yours” on the radio back in 2008 — and for at least the next five years — I squealed. Why? Because Jason Mraz’s feel good, über romantic hit of the 2000s was my absolute favorite song, and for that half a decade my love for it didn’t sway. This new album of his has that same energy that I fell in love with 10 years ago. I mean, the stunning album artwork alone is a cheerful, slightly psychedelic heart made up of dots of color and flowers. The actual record itself has a superb tempo, as it bounces from one indie-pop-rock-folk love song to the next, never missing a twinkling beat.

  The overarching theme on Know. is love, but the Mraz-inspired love that makes people believe in world peace and happy endings — not the kind of love that you often hear on the radio that depicts a wanting or a needing for a significant other. “Love Is Still the Answer” is a six-minute and six-second track that, clearly, touches upon love, in a soulful way. It almost mimics a John Lennon styled approach to pushing an idea out in the world through song. Like Lennon’s iconic and truly vital song “Imagine”, Mraz’s “Love Is Still the Answer” is not to persuade the audience or force his opinion on them, but to inspire them and make them think about what a world would be like with peace and love, not a dangerous depiction of a world without either. It’s the furthest thing from drawn out, as it’s an acoustic, soulful, meaningful anthem about picking ourselves up, starting anew, and loving ourselves and each other.

  Arriving on the music scene a bit more recently, popstar and songwriter Meghan Trainor joined in on the song “More Than Friends”, of which Trainor co-wrote with Mraz. The song opens with a simple, guitar-based musical arrangement but grows to be an instrumental track — both figuratively and literally. The piano, drums, guitar, and even steel guitar make an appearance on this collaboration — the only one on the record. It starts with Mraz, flows into a light, albeit not too memorable, chorus, and then turns to Trainor, whose voice melts flawlessly into the charming stylings that Mraz always seems to create within his music. Their voices blend in an outstanding way, making this song more than just relatable for its lyrical story about two friends bridging the gap and taking their relationship to the next level, but is outstanding, as well, for its genuine arrangement and chemistry between the duos hopeful, skillful, and equally as smooth vocals.

  “Sleeping to Dream”, the seventh track on Know., is actually a fan favorite that took over a decade to have its studio version released. If you’ve ever seen this indie pop musician live, then you might just know this song. Although, the studio version has a more melodic, almost cathartic take to it, in comparison to the older, now classic live version, of which had much more melancholic undertones. The sense of longing that “Sleeping to Dream” used to have made it a staple in his catalog, if you knew about it. But, being that this is Jason Mraz we’re talking about, he simply switched up the strumming and picking of his guitar to a more bubbly, light tempo and there you have it: a perfect song about looking to the future, looking to love. I think it is clear after all of these years that he can change it up, but he’ll never stray far from his personality and his musical roots.

  In a political and social climate like this one, Jason Mraz is exactly what we need. I will always be a fan, but with each new project he takes on, I feel more and more eternally grateful for him and what he crafts with such passion, talent, and heart. To Mraz, “love” might really just be the answer — and music, of course. He may be 41 years old and he may have been making music for almost two decades, but in what case would that matter? In this industry, you have to learn to take good music and good musicians as they come and the power that they have only further proves that neither will ever die.