Skillful showboat struts his stuff on sophomore studio outing
Having established his grandstanding style
on the tongue-twisting hit “The Remedy” from his ebullient first album, Waiting for My Rocket to Come
, San Diego-based writer/singer Jason Mraz makes hamming it up the raison d’etre of Mr. A-Z
(the title itself reeks of guilt-free narcissism).
On linchpin cut and first single “Wordplay,” he melds speed-singing with a self-congratulatory lyric spin rarely encountered outside hip-hop, while rapper Bushwalla sets up the following funkfest “Geek in the Pink.” Because he’s unconcerned about maintaining a hip cachet, Mraz has no problem impersonating Ricky Martin at his smarmiest (“O Lover”) or Don McLean at his most pseudo-poetic (“Life Is Wonderful”).
What makes this glossy album more charming than cloying overall is the totally unselfconscious way he throws himself into these showy and technically stunning performances. If Mraz is more entertainer than artist, you’ve gotta give him this much: he does entertain artfully.