A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
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What's the story?
Densely clever lyrics collide with a variety of musical styles on Jason Mraz's second album, MR. A-Z. The Virginia-born singer-songwriter uses his versatile voice effectively on a dozen tracks that come across sounding carefully produced, well-performed, and introspectively intense.
Is it any good?
There is no doubt that the guy can sing, and it's clear that he crafts his lyrics with attentive care. Producer Steve Lillywhite, who has also worked with U2, Dave Matthews Band, and Peter Gabriel, helps the artist bring out the best in these songs. Surprising musical touches include an operatic interlude on "Mr. Curiosity," gently Latin rhythms on "Bella Luna" and "O Lover," hip-hop/funk on "Geek in the Pink." Jason Mraz's musical-theatre-trained voice is up to every challenge, including an especially lovely duet with Rachael Yamagata on "Did You Get My Message?"
Somehow though, a soft rock/pop sensibility seems to override any and all attempts at rock & roll energy. Despite the impressive ingredients, the end result comes off sounding a little bland. No one song stands out as a hit, and just like in lackluster musical theatre, you won't leave humming the tunes.