Mr. A-Z Atlantic Music •••½Sound •••• DualDisc Extras •••
Spunky heartthrob Jason Mraz (Mr. A-Z, get it?) teams with powerhouse producer Steve Lillywhite and avoids the sophomore slump by building on his strengths as a melodic, playful songwriter. Hit single "Wordplay" is just that - a breezy, self-aware singalong with cunning lines spun at a pace to rival Ed Robertson's tantalizing tongue-twisting in Barenaked Ladies' "One Week." Mixing "hip-hop and flip-flops," as Mraz puts it in the ultra-funky "Geek in the Pink," he moves effortlessly from jazz ("Bella Luna") to alt-rock lite ("Please Don't Tell Her"), his vocals often evoking Justin Timberlake and Jamiroquai's Jay Kay. I say we do a proper mashup and dub his style "flip-hop." The DVD side of the limited-edition DualDisc version includes lyrics, a photo gallery, and a 20-minute in-the-studio doc that shows a mostly cheery Mraz honing his chops. You also get the entire album in high-rez DVD-Audio, though the mix is stereo only.