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'Know.' review: Jason Mraz accentuates the positive, maybe a bit too much

"Know.," from Jason Mraz. Photo Credit: Atlantic Records

JASON MRAZ

"Know."

BOTTOM LINE Accentuating the positive, maybe a bit too much.

Jason Mraz usually likes to take risks, but on his new album, “Know.” (Atlantic), he keeps them to a minimum.

Instead, Mraz focuses on delivering as many warm and fuzzy, moderately upbeat, lilting ballads as he can. And considering how well the “I’m Yours” singer-songwriter does that, it’s a pretty good plan.

The gorgeous opener “Let’s See What the Night Can Do” is a stunner, capturing the sweeping excitement of a new relationship in elegantly simple terms. It’s the latest example of how Mraz is best when he hones his lyrics, rather than letting them spill out stream-of-consciousness style like they do in “Unlonely.”

He does it again in “Love Is the Answer,” though the string section flourishes, choral backing and dramatic production may actually detract from the power of the message.

The first single, “Have It All,” is the Mraz we have grown to expect, like a commencement speech set to music. “May the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows,” he declares over a spare, sweet backdrop. “And may the road less paved be the road that you follow.”

May Mraz soon follow that road as well.

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