Obsessed with carnality as he is, it was only a matter of time before Jason Mraz realized that it's better to sound sexy than to blather about it incessantly. This monumental moment arrives on his third album, We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, easily his sleekest collection of sounds and his only album to contain a suggestion of seduction within its grooves. Actually, We Sing is Mraz's only album to actually groove, as he sets down his acoustic guitar for much of the album and rides along on smooth rhythms partially indebted to '80s blue-eyed soul by Hall & Oates and Steve Winwood -- in that sense, the album recalls John Mayer's Continuum -- but he relies more heavily on Thriller, mixing it up with some modern neo-soul that gives this a surprisingly soulful sound. Mraz can glide on these surfaces, leaning on the gentle art of insinuation instead of goosing his paramour, but old habits die hard: it's only a matter of time before he punctures the seduction by scatting sophomorically, slipping in juvenile come-ons ("You make my slacks tight"), or stuttering manic syncopations on "The Dynamo of Volition." Mraz is also prone to terminal cuteness, drafting in a kids chorus to close out the coda of "Coyotes" and mewling out phrases like "always a goody doer," and while these are often so close-miked and forthright they're hard to ignore, they're also just not as prevalent as they were on the icky Mr. A-Z. Also, they're cleverly camouflaged beneath that gossamer gloss, typified by the quite catchy "Butterfly," whose Quincy Jones-styled horns disguise his mildly queasy oral sex puns. Mraz's lyrics don't stand up to such close scrutiny -- something the McCartney-esque, perhaps autobiographical divorce ballad "Love for a Child" ("Was it my mom who put dad out on his ass/Or the other way around") makes plain -- but the nice thing about the soulful shimmer of We Sing is that it's so slick that it's easy to ignore the gibberish spilling out of Mraz's mouth and just enjoy the sunny, easy sound.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: Colbie Caillat
feat: James Morrison