|Average Customer Review: ( 194 customer reviews )
Write an online review and share your thoughts with other customers.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 67 found the following review helpful:
No peaks or valleys in Love Apr 19, 2012
By Andrew Macneill
After trying different songs and styles over the past 4 years, Jason Mraz comes up with an album that is very different from his previous offerings yet still succeeds in delivering a satisfying sound.
If you're looking for the upbeat and fast-paced funk of We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, you won't find it here. That may be the biggest problem for his thousands of fans. This album is definitely more subdued than his other efforts. The risqué lyrics and fun wordplay that many fans have come to love aren't on this album - yet the song writing on this album seems more focused on its goal.
The production on Love Is a Four Letter Word is very smooth - lush strings come in to add those touches, the horns are not in your face (with the exception of The Freedom Song) and the harmonies are light and airy. With the exception of voice, guitar and drums, every instrument comes and goes very discreetly, adding their touches when needed but without fanfare. This can both be a blessing and a curse, as it sometimes sounds like the soul of a song has been smothered by the production. Here we find an album about Love that talks about love but never quite hits the emotional peaks and lows that love brings about.
This is typical of most Mraz albums however - songs on a Mraz album rarely sound like they do when performed live. This is perhaps the curse of being an artist who can pull lyrics out of thin air with a melody that lingers - a produced album never sounds "live".
Fans who want to know that Jason hasn't lost his fun live style should buy the Deluxe version which features live tracks of songs that didn't make the album and showcase that fun. That version also includes a demo version of "I Won't Give Up", the first single.
Certain songs do feel like they were "required" by the label: Living In The Moment sounds like a throw-away to I'm Yours, Mraz' biggest hit from the last album; Everything Is Sound also sounds like it was based on some of his earlier music, yet toned down. The songs all carry a positive message - it's better to write about love and positivity than hate and negativity - yet a lot of the lyrics show a sincere earnestness that comes with knowing, getting and losing love.
At some times, the album takes on a country feel (Living in the Moment and Frank D Fixer); at other times, it sounds like the roots-rock of the 70s (Who's Thinking About You Now, Be Honest) and sometimes like jazz (5/6). A hidden track "I'm Coming Over" sounds like Paul Simon. Rather than a "party" album, it's a "cruising" album, the kind of album you want to put on for a relaxing afternoon or a dinner party. In fact, the album may garner more fans from the over-30 audience than from the younger generation.
This album doesn't have hits written all over it. While most songs can stand on their own, none sound like break-away hits.
This is a more mature-sounding Mraz, grappling with a universal topic, expressed in a harmless, uneventful way. Yet the album grows stronger and stronger on every listen, with something for everyone. In the end, to borrow a phrase from I Won't Give Up, the album knows "it's worth it".
37 of 40 found the following review helpful:
LOVE! Apr 19, 2012
By K. Goss
I have never been a huge fan of Jason Mraz, however, he really won me over with this album. If you listen to the lyrics of his song you can tell that he is pouring everything into each of these songs.
He not only made an excellent easy listening mixtape, but he also put together one of the most inspirational albums in recent memory. Although this album won't change the music industry, I feel that this album can really impact people's mindset. Instead of listening to DEPRESSING songs why not listen to Jason Mraz and feel uplifted, revived, and inspired.
If you dont want to listen to the whole CD, which I think you really should, listen to these tracks (SPOTIFY). Dont just listen, hear and feel these lyrics:
Living in the Moment
I Won't Give Up
93 Million Miles
The World As I See It
This CD will be in my player for a long time.
18 of 19 found the following review helpful:
Change of Pace and style Apr 20, 2012
If you are hoping that this album has all the quick tempo and lyrical twists that you are accustomed to from Jason, it's not. I still like it and would buy it again in a heartbeat.
Common critique I've read is that the lyrics are very simplified. Other than the track 'You Fckn Did It', I'd agree that the tempo of this album is much slower from previous albums. Although the upbeat tempo may not be there, I can still hear the passion Jason always has when he sings. That in my opinion is more important than tricky lyrics and him putting out what some fans expect him to put out.
25 of 29 found the following review helpful:
Mraz Brings the Love, Reaches New Phase Apr 17, 2012
By Rudy Palma
"The Writing Fiend"
Jason Mraz could wrap his voice around names from the phone book and wring a wide spectrum of emotions from them, and several selections from new album "Love is a Four Letter Word" showcase that glorious range of his. Because he has such a swoon-inducing set of pipes and a remarkable ability to craft colorful melodies that showcase it he never fails to sound anything but resolute and inviting, helping his lesser tunes stand tall next to his stronger work.
Now firmly in his 30s and a decade into his career, Mraz often sounds comfortable yet conflicted on "Love is a Four Letter Word," trying to embrace his sincere (but often confining) peace-and-love persona and also find breathing room beyond it. This, as well as the fact that he is long-entrenched in a relatively stress-free life, no longer needing to worry about acquiring new fans or hits and heeding advice from his own personal "joyologist," inevitably makes him a different man and, therefore, artist.
He is at that once-in-a-career place creative souls reach (when lucky) where the old incentives to create art are suddenly replaced by new ones. He does not entirely succeed at getting out from under the clutter of expectations of fans and record company bosses, and for that reason a few tunes ("Everything Is Sound," "Living in the Moment"), while always lovely and listenable, sound mannered and even a tad forced, attributes which never applied to his former work.
Considering the expectations heaped upon him in the wake of "I'm Yours" and its massive, yet stifling, success, "...Four Letter Word" is certainly a winner if not an outright triumph, and that is principally owed to the willingness Mraz has to try new sonic palettes, reevaluate past declarations and mix moods, tempos and themes more flagrantly than on his past three albums. For every instance in which he can be accused of playing it safe, he can just as easily be praised for taking a corresponding risk.
"Who's Thinking About You Now?" is exemplary with its stark, warm instrumental arrangement and non-melodramatic, often almost-spoken brooding, as is the sparkly, curious "Frank D. Fixer," an upbeat ode to Mraz's late grandfather which heads in an interesting direction, achieving universality and a charming lack of pretense, perfectly showcasing that full-bodied, sun-drenched vocal presence.
"5/6" resembles earlier Mraz tunes with its idiosyncratic, unorthodox amount of verses and wordplay, his voice scaling a large range as he dispenses poetic droplets of Thoreau-like philosophy, at one point atop a swelling organ. It is a true pleasure and the album's best moment, although the tearfully moving "93 Million Miles" comes in on its heels with lyrics of profound love and compassion. Elsewhere, "The World as I See It," in spite of a trite phrase or two, is intoxicating as it is atmospheric.
While Mraz may not be perfectly framed on "Love is a Four Letter Word" - some of Joe Chiccarelli's production is a bit on the intrusive side, and a portion of his eccentricities, such as his delightful penchant for rap-singing, have been left on the cutting room floor - it is an album that affirms not only the humanity of the listener but also Mraz himself. It proves that, even when a slight sense of struggle slips in to the proceedings, he is unstoppably compelling and always intriguing, sometimes even more so as result. That alone puts him at the head of the class.
8 of 8 found the following review helpful:
This album, as I see it, is a remarkable thing Apr 25, 2012
By Richelle W
In reading other reviews of "Love is a Four Letter Word," I have noticed two main threads: those who criticize Mraz for more fully embracing the peace-and-love vibes that made him popular with the release of "I'm Yours" ca. 2008, and those who admire his willingness to take a new direction and still be playful and creative with the music. In either case, I think we can all agree that "Love" is a far cry from Mraz's days a curbside prophet, a geek in the pink, or a dynamo of volition. Then again, in reminiscing on his old albums, I see that a lot of those tracks in isolation could make Mraz seem just as flat and over-produced as many accuse him of being now. The truth about Mr. A-Z is that you really do have to be a dedicated fan to understand what he is capable of and to overlook some of the indiscretions that happen in the studio. Because I believe Jason to be a true musician, he is most definitely better in a live setting, where the creativity and spontaneity that make him so lovable are given freer expression. There is no doubt that he is talented, but I will admit that I had my doubts about whether or not I would like this album. In the words of a friend who dislikes "I'm Yours" just as much as I do, the world does not need another Jack Johnson. While I love the idea of a man and his acoustic guitar, it is easy for that kind of music to slide into the realm of the utterly uninspired.
All that having been said, I do not regret purchasing this album. Per the usual, Mraz is ultimately successful in delivering songs that are lovely and worth the listen, even if some are less memorable. I agree with other reviewers that songs like "Living in the Moment" remind us that Jason is still trying to meet the expectations of younger fans who were converted to his style in the wake of "I'm Yours" and its startling popularity. I know there are a lot of "I Won't Give Up" fans out there as well, but I write that off as the perfunctory popular hit single that I normally don't appreciate as much anyway.
If there is one reason I can recommend this album to you, it's as simple as this: it speaks to me. While it's true that the lyrics of "Love" are far less playful and quick-witted than we've seen on previous albums, they are still very rich in their simplicity and, in typical Mraz fashion, self-aware. While a lot of the topics he takes up (love, peace, freedom, family) could be deemed worn-out or cliche, he finds a way to deliver the message in a way that is refreshingly sincere. Really. I believe him when he says something as simple as "It's not hard for me to love you," and I realize how comfortably that line made its way into my heart. I really have internalized several of the songs on the album, as much for the message as for the music. For example, I probably listened to "93 Million Miles" at least two dozen times on the very evening that I bought the album; it was a powerful reminder that even when our sources of light seem so far away, home is always close at hand. The whole tenor of the album has to do with the art of living abundantly, which we come to learn is almost indistinguishable from the gift of loving abundantly. There is nothing trite about that, at least not in regards to Mraz's delivery.
Other favorites of mine: "The World As I See It," which has what a YouTube commenter refers to as a "kind of 70's earnestness to it." I love the vibe and the texture. Similarly, "Be Honest" (feat. Inara George) was a treat for me; I would take this over the Colbie Caillat duet any day. It almost has a bossa nova feel to it, which makes it perfect for shooting the breeze out on the porch. "5/6" is another good track for those interested in Jason's jazzy side, and it is one of the more musically complex offerings on the album. I love the horns on "The Freedom Song" (they were my first smile of the album, maybe because they reminded me of "Make it Mine").
All in all, a good album to remind us that "we've got some joy in this thing" and that "the world... is a remarkable place." For anyone still on the fence about it, I would implore you to "Hear just what your heart has to say" because this album really will speak to your heart if you let it. It may or may not meet your standards of sophistication if you're a music snob, but it is honest, and that means worlds to me as a music-lover, a twentysomething, and someone who believes in feeding the soul. Jason will do right by you.
See all 194 customer reviews on Amazon.com