Music

Album review | POP

Jason Mraz, ‘YES!’

This San Diego-bred singer-songwriter has quietly settled into position as one of pop’s premier sensitive strummers — his 2008 lite-rock ditty “I’m Yours” held Billboard’s record for Hot 100 longevity until earlier this year—but on his fifth album he introduces a new element: a foil in the form of Los Angeles-based folkies Raining Jane, who serve as Mraz’s backing band throughout this album. “YES!” has the sweet-voiced troubadour sounding reenergized, with his collaborators (and producer/Bright Eyes member Mike Mogis) rounding out his sound with bits of cello and ukulele, as well as well-placed backing vocals. The mix works particularly well on the aging rumination “Quiet,” on which Raining Jane’s smeared choir echoes a slide guitar, and the pleasantly rambling “Drive,” which opens up into a highway-worthy romantic anthem midway through. The album’s a bit long, and the overwrought cover of Boyz II Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” is somewhat ill-advised. But Mraz’s easy charm has, over the course of his decade-plus in the spotlight, aged well. (Out Tuesday)

MAURA JOHNSTON

Essential “Long Drive”

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Maura Johnston can be reached at maura.johnston@gmail.com