The Austin Chronicle

ACL Music Festival Reviews

Reviewed by Matt Dentler, September 23, 2005, Music

Jason Mraz

Mr. A-Z (Atlantic)

You can take the man out of the trucker hat, but you can't take the trucker hat off the man. On his sophomore LP, Mr. A-Z, teen-friendly singer-songwriter Jason Mraz shoots for maturity and scores. That doesn't mean he completely sheds his Ashton Kutcher/shopping-mall persona, but it sounds like he has plenty of time left to do it. The album occasionally flounders on odd indulgences like the white-boy rap of "Geek in the Pink" and the wince-worthy "Wordplay," but Mraz pulls it together on most of the 12 songs. "Did You Get My Message?" maintains a pleasant duet with Rachael Yamagata, despite its uninspired voice-mail subject matter. "Bella Luna" is a splendid bossa nova journey, sparkling with guitar from Raul Midón. Mraz may be a balladeer for the text-message set, but he flexes an older muscle with nods to Sting ("Mr. Curiosity") and Joe Jackson ("Clockwatching"). This is what separates him from his trucker-hat brethren, such as Gavin DeGraw, and makes him more introspective than folks like Ryan Cabrera. It can all be filed under "sorority rock," but the smartest girls in the house will know their A-Z. (Sunday, 4:30pm, SBC stage)


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