At this point, 12 years into his career as a coffeehouse-turned-arena playing singer-songwriter, Jason Mraz knows what works. He gets that his fans want a mellow, light rock album full of sticky sweet love songs. So, when it comes time to record a new album, he doesn't feel the pressure to reinvent himself.
"I honestly feel that I've made the same record every time," he tells us. That being said, his latest album, "Yes!", a complete collaboration with the all-female folk rock band Raining Jane, wasn't planned at all. Mraz and Raining Jane have been meeting up to write songs twice a year for the past seven years. "We had no agenda other than just meeting up to write and have fun," Mraz says. Some of the songs ended up on some of Mraz's past albums, while others became hits for other singers, such as John Mayer. After a few particularly rewarding sessions in 2013, Mraz liked the songs so much, he decided to bundle them up into one album, that being the newly released, "Yes!"
"It was a happy accident," he says. "We didn’t actually know we were writing an album. I think that would have sounded a lot different had we sat around thinking, 'OK, this has to be on the record.'"
Even in an age where people often download songs one single at a time, Mraz is obsessed with the order in which the songs occur on the album and says it's something he thinks about constantly. In his opinion, every album should tell a story, and each song is a fragment of that story.Not surprisingly, the songs on "Yes!" tell a love story.
It starts out recognizing that you do love someone; that love is there. "There's a little heartbreak and discomfort, and we just have to accept what's meant to be. There's compassion in the love story. There's forgiveness. There's acceptance. And the resolve is contentment, which is used to shine on." You can see why he's always writing.
Though Mraz is busy touring, he's already writing new songs. "The best material is always the stuff that needs to be written," he says. "It's the stuff that comes out of emotion, passion and the need to express or interpret something; to hear it back happening." From the sound of it, there's no shortage of love stories left to tell.
On all those "I'm Yours" YouTube covers:
"It's always an honor as a songwriter to see another musician take the effort to play your songs and embody the words. My favorite 'I'm Yours' cover that I saw was the little itchy nose kid playing the ukelele. He's just sitting in his closet playing the uke and his nose is itching. He even played thediminished chord which not a lot of people do!"
If you go:
Jason Mraz with Raining Jane
September 12 & 13, 8 p.m.
Citi Wang Theatre
270 Tremont St, 617-482-9393
New York City
September 22 & 23
Radio City Music Hall, 8 p.m.
1260 Avenue of the Americas, 212-247-4777
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence