By Annie Reuter
For his fifth studio album, Jason Mraz teamed up with his friends in the all-female folk group, Raining Jane, and decided to go acoustic. It’s these women, who Mraz says encouraged him to try a little tenderness on his new album, dubbed YES! and out July 15.
“Sonically, my backing band on this album are four incredible women,” he told Radio.com of working with Raining Jane. “Their approach to music and their voices definitely bring a tenderness and sentiment to this record that some of my records don’t have.”
Though he’s calling the release his “first acoustic album,” Mraz promises it packs a pretty big punch with eclectic instrumentation that includes cello, sitar, ukuleles and other small stringed instruments. But even though Mraz may have broadened his sound for this new one, he still stays true to the songwriter he’s always been.
“The themes on the album are very much the same themes I’ve written about: optimism, hope, love, joy, healing, faith, acceptance, gratitude,” he explained. “This is a conscious decision because I always feel a song should be an affirmation of some kind. It should get you through the present moment and into a more loving or realized future.”
Fittingly, his lead single is called “Love Someone” and was written with the ladies of Raining Jane while walking down a dirt road in Virginia with a small herd of goats.
“We all grabbed an instrument and we’re walking down the road just making things up,” Mraz said. “That’s really what songwriting is. It’s taking risks and making things up and seeing what sticks. It was an observation of how wonderful love is. When you give it away it comes back to you immediately. It really is what gives us life.”
From “I Won’t Give Up,” off his previous record, 2012’s Love Is A Four Letter Word, to “I’m Yours,” off 2008’s We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things., Mraz has always found his sweet spot writing about love. And his upcoming release is certainly no different.
“I always had this idea that love was this really strong thing and I needed to find exactly what it was. Sometimes I thought I had it and then I’d actually end up screwing someone over and realize, ‘Oh, that’s not it,'” Mraz, who broke off his engagement to singer, Tristan Prettyman in 2011, admitted. “Music for me has always been my first love. It’s always been a way for me to shut down the rest of the world, shut down the mental chatter and really connect with one voice. I think I’ve just wanted others to have that same experience where they would lose that mental chatter and they just feel loved.”
Mraz’s new album won’t be out for another two months, but fans don’t have to wait that long to hear new music. Each week leading up to the album’s release he will release a new song that he recorded live with Raining Jane at The Om Studio on his avocado ranch.
For more information, visit his website.