Mr. A-Z [DualDisc]

Mr. A-Z [DualDisc]

4.7 4
by Jason Mraz
     
 

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It's always tricky for an artist to follow up a multi-platinum debut. On the one hand, there's a desire to give the fan base the same kind of kick; on the other, there's the risk of being dubbed a wimp for refusing to draw outside the lines. Jason Mraz navigates his way through that tight spot rather nicely on Mr. A-Z, a sophomore setSee more details below

Overview

It's always tricky for an artist to follow up a multi-platinum debut. On the one hand, there's a desire to give the fan base the same kind of kick; on the other, there's the risk of being dubbed a wimp for refusing to draw outside the lines. Jason Mraz navigates his way through that tight spot rather nicely on Mr. A-Z, a sophomore set that retains the playful, self-effacing vibe of Waiting for My Rocket to Come without replicating that disc's ambiance note-for-note. "Wordplay" is probably the closest in tone to Mraz's smash "Remedy," with its acoustic strum and funky shuffle -- not to mention a lyric that shrugs off the potential of one-hit-wonderdom with affable charm. He takes a similar approach on "Geek in the Pink," a silly bit of autobiography that ratchets up the hip-hop side of his persona without the slightest pretense of seeking street cred. Mraz courts cred of an altogether different kind by stretching out a bit on a few of Mr. A-Z's more intriguing numbers, notably "Bella Luna," a heart-on-sleeve love ballad with a hint of bossa nova in its DNA. "Song for a Friend," on the other hand, finds him getting in touch with his inner Carole King, combining, as it does, Brill Building sensibility and a melody that could pass muster in a Broadway musical. At times, Mraz's lyrics teeter on the precipice of disposability, but thanks to a winning delivery and an aw-shucks attitude, he usually manages to snatch them back and plant them firmly in the listener's gray matter.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
In case you didn't catch the pun in the title of Jason Mraz's sophomore album, Mr. A-Z, the perpetually sophomoric singer/songwriter repeats it in the chorus of "Wordplay," the first single from this follow-up to his hit 2002 debut, Waiting for My Rocket to Come. It's a play on his last name, which is appropriate, since it not only indicates how self-absorbed Mraz is, but it's a good match for the dirty joke title of his debut. That's because Jason Mraz is primarily concerned with two things: himself and sex. But even when he's talking about the latter, he fits the former into the equation -- "I've been working on getting you off, so get on board," for instance -- because he does consider himself to be quite a compelling presence. After all, he's "been a new sensation," as he declares on "Wordplay," which is likely the first single to ever be about an artist planning to beat the sophomore slump by having a hit with the very tune you're currently hearing. In this song, Mr. A-Z himself claims that "it's all about the wordplay" because "I am the wizard of oohs." Now if Mr. Wizard was really all about the wordplay -- that is, all about rhyming games and clever juxtapositions -- he would realize that his self-anointed title doesn't sound like "The Wizard of Oz" (and no amount of musical quotations from the film's theme song will change that), it sounds like he's the "wizard of ooze." That's a far cry from "Till I step on the brakes to get out of her clutches," to randomly pick an example from Elvis Costello, a songwriter who truly does relish playing with words (and was more of an outsider than this self-proclaimed "geek"), but his awkward wordplay does fit, because Mraz does come across like the Wizard of Ooze. Especially when he's trying to be romantic, whether it's on the mock-operatic crooning that closes "Mr. Curiosity" or how "damn" is softly cooed in the chorus of "Plane," where he takes consolation that even if his flight crashes, he'll at least be able to see his lover's house from here. Not exactly romantic mood music, but Mraz prefers matters of the flesh anyway, rapidly spitting out lyrics about hooking up, such as "I can taste you all over my face," that make Dave Matthews' "hike up your skirt a little more" seem classy. Of course, Mraz's loose-limbed, litely funky, litely jazzy pop recalls Matthews and all of the post-Aware Records singer/songwriters who followed in his wake. He loves to have his words spiral up and down on a cascade of moon/June/spoon rhymes and repetition. He loves to have them spill out uncontrollably, cramming as many words into a phrase as possible, unless he's diving for that dirty joke, as he does on "Geek in the Pink," when he stretches out "I can save you from unoriginal dum-dums/Who would care if you come...plete him or not." All of these traits were apparent on Waiting for My Rocket to Come, but with a little success underneath his belt, Mraz is content to indulge himself to his heart's content on Mr. A-Z, constructing songs that ride a groove with the sole purpose of giving himself a place to sing and kind of rap about the glories of himself, or to make juvenile jokes. For those who enjoyed the wise-ass undercurrent of his debut, this will be a delight. [A DualDisc version was also released.]

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Product Details

Release Date:
07/26/2005
Label:
Elektra / Wea
UPC:
0075678377624
catalogNumber:
83776

Tracks

Disc 1

  1. Life Is Wonderful
  2. Wordplay
  3. Geek in the Pink
  4. Did You Get My Message?
  5. Mr. Curiosity
  6. Clockwatching
  7. Bella Luna
  8. Plane
  9. O. Lover
  10. Please Don't Tell Her
  11. The Forecast
  12. Song for a Friend

Disc 2

  1. Life Is Wonderful
  2. Wordplay
  3. Geek in the Pink
  4. Did You Get My Message?
  5. Mr. Curiosity
  6. Clockwatching
  7. Bella Luna
  8. Plane
  9. O. Lover
  10. Please Don't Tell Her
  11. The Forecast
  12. Song for a Friend
  13. Bonus Material

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jason Mraz   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Bashiri Johnson   Percussion
Bill Bell   Guitar,Background Vocals
Jack Daley   Bass
Karl Perazzo   Percussion,Timbales
Raul Rekow   Percussion,Conga
Lyle Workman   Dobro,Guitar,Electric Guitar
Josh Deutsch   Castanets
Raul Midón   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
Eric Simpson   Choir, Chorus
Mike Elizondo   Bass
?uestlove   Drums
Nir Z.   Drums
Kevin Kadish   Acoustic Guitar
Rachael Yamagata   Vocals,Background Vocals
Roger Joseph Manning   Keyboards,Moog Bass
Eric Hinojosa   Keyboards,Background Vocals
Ian Sheridan   Bass,Background Vocals
Daniel Adendorff   Choir, Chorus
Lauren Baar   Choir, Chorus
Nicole Bayer   Cello
Tracy Calton   Choir, Chorus
Patricia Cancro   Choir, Chorus
Rebecca Cheatham   Choir, Chorus
Megan Dean   Choir, Chorus
Robbie Eastman   Choir, Chorus
Sarah Ellett   Choir, Chorus
Kelsey Lee Farmer   Choir, Chorus
Brandan Charles Jenkins   Choir, Chorus
Kara Lusk   Choir, Chorus
Christopher Mantlo   Choir, Chorus
Jonathan Mathews   Choir, Chorus
Charlie Mingroni   Voices
DJ Bob Necksnapp   scratching
Noel "Toca" Rivera   Background Vocals
Clinton Roane   Choir, Chorus
Whitney Robinson   Choir, Chorus
Elizabeth Rowe   Choir, Chorus
Amanda Stitzer   Choir, Chorus
Brandon Tate   Choir, Chorus
Jeremy Tozler   Choir, Chorus
Kasey Underdown   Choir, Chorus

Technical Credits

Ted Jensen   Mastering
Steve Lillywhite   Producer
Lester Mendez   Composer
Dennis Morris   Composer
Steve Sidelnyk   Programming
Scott Spencer Storch   Composer
Ben Watts   Cover Photo
Dan Wilson   Composer
Carl Glanville   Engineer
Josh Deutsch   Producer,Executive Producer
Wendy Robinson   Videography
Bird   Videography
Peter Harding   Videography
Jason Mraz   Composer
Kevin Kadish   Composer,Producer,Soundscape
Greg Gigendad Burke   Art Direction
Eric Hinojosa   Composer,Programming,Producer
Ian Sheridan   Composer,String Arrangements
Danielle Decker   Contributor
Diana de la Cerda   Videography
Samuel "Vaughan" Merrick   Engineer
Roxanne Oldham   Contributor
Teresa Polyak   Videography
David Zwarg   Videography
Ainslie Henderson   Composer

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