SANTA MONICA, California — Jason Mraz's hit single "The Remedy (I Won't Worry)" and platinum debut, Waiting for My Rocket to Come, catapulted him from a coffee-shop troubadour in San Diego to an emerging artist booking arena gigs nationwide.
The 28-year-old's recently released Mr. A-Z (see "Jason Mraz Turns His Tongue-Tripping Surname Into An Asset For Next LP") is an eccentric mix of melodies and harmonies that, while similar to the singer's original sound on Rocket, showcases more maturity in the man behind the mic.
"[I hit] puberty," Mraz joked. "No, I don't know what it is but I don't really hear a difference in the sound. I think the overall theme and message, and even the colors, are pretty much the same. The only thing that's evolved is time and experience."
The 12-track disc, produced by Steve Lillywhite (U2, Dave Matthews Band), features everything from orchestral ("Mr. Curiosity") to psychedelic ("Life Is Wonderful") to hip-hop, techno-driven ("Geek in the Pink") tunes. Despite pressure to deliver a successful LP, Mraz says he remained cool throughout the recording process.
"My vision for this record was just to get it done," he said. "It was like a homework assignment, and when you have an assignment there is no vision but completion."
Inspiration, he says, came primarily from his travels, success and "trying to fall in love fast." Forty potential tracks were born, then whittled down to 20, and finally, Mraz settled on 12 diverse selections.
"These songs are kind of a peek into my life," he explained. "It's like, well, I don't really have the time to explain myself, so I'm just going to tell you how it is and how I'm feeling on these different topics and you can interpret it for yourself."
For his lead single, Mraz chose the satirical "Wordplay" (see "Mraz Wants Bling, Girls For New Video — Just Not In It"), a track that was born as a joke. While he says it's not his favorite tune on the record — that honor goes to the candid moonlight sonata "Bella Luna," written by collaborator Bushwalla — Mraz says "Wordplay" would serve as a catalyst for the rest of the material.
"To me, it was the kind of song you just want to get over with. It's like, 'Oh, OK, I get it. Thanks. Move along. Now let's hear the rest of the [album],' " he said.
While he has yet to settle on a second single, Mraz is pushing for the anti-love anthem "Please Don't Tell Her." "I'm a huge fan of [that song] because it's different than anything else I've done. I've always tried to have a positive outlook and find this [idealism] buried somewhere, but this record [doesn't have that]."
But for now, the laidback crooner, who kicks off a cross-country trek in September, will wait to see what impact Mr. A-Z will have.
"I don't know what the music is gonna do," Mraz admitted. "It may bring peace and harmony to the entire world or it may cause the next world war. I just don't know."