Jason Mraz and Raining Jane collaborate for Jason’s fifth album YES!
An acoustic album from Jason Mraz isn’t really that big a stretch from his standard recordings as he’s always been pretty mellow. What makes YES! different from his previous albums is how much the focus is on him, his guitar and the involvement of Raining Jane, an all-female group who co-wrote the album and provide background vocals and instrumentation throughout.
YES! may be credited solely as a Jason Mraz album but for all intents and purposes, it is a collaborative effort with Raining Jane. They first worked with Jason on A Beautiful Mess, a track from his 2008 record We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things.
Whether or not he’s ‘sharing the spotlight’, Jason does sound more comfortable and settled on this album. It’s relaxing and soothing to listen to.
With such a light, easygoing sound on YES!, the assumption would be that it would be a breeze. Unfortunately, I found myself checking out after the first five tracks. There is little to latch on to throughout as Jason makes liberal use of cliches while rarely deviating from his comfort zone to be even just a little adventurous.
Besides than the final track Shine, an eastern influenced track featuring a sitar, the only other risk Jason took was covering Boyz II Men on It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday. Yet, the result is so safe it’s unnecessary. This cover adds nothing to the song nor does it provide an opportunity for Jason to show off any abilities he may have been secretly hiding. It exists on this album. That’s it.
The optimism on YES! is almost irritating. While I’m an advocate for positive thinking to a better tomorrow, the level of optimism here borders on blissfully unaware of reality as love is once again the main topic throughout. For such a versatile subject, it is so uninspired in this form. I feel nothing here.
YES! is an album that can hold its own for people looking for a carefree record to brighten a rainy, or even sunny day. Raining Jane provide strong points as their backing vocals add depth and help with creating vivid visuals. Once I accepted that Jason is unlikely to make the freestyle styles he started with over a decade ago, YES! became easier to get into. But with that, it’s unlikely to be revisited in favour of his older work, or someone else’s.
2. Love Someone
3. Hello, You Beautiful Thing
4. Long Drive
6. Best Friend
8. Out Of My Hands
9. It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday
10. 3 Things
11. You Can Rely On Me
12. Back To The Earth
13. A World With You