Jason Mraz steals a title for funny, funky CD

Kevin C. Johnson
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MCT)

Singer-songwriter Jason Mraz's latest CD carries one of the most amusing titles: "We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things."

Mraz nabbed the title during a trip to Scotland, where an artist friend coined the phrase.

"It was one of the most profound things I'd heard at the time, and I knew it would make a great album title," he says. "The album is funny and has a lighthearted ring to it, and it's very sing-along and danceable."

His goal with "We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things" was "to make it sort of raw and acoustic. Even though it's a pretty funky album, it's still pretty stripped down. I didn't want to overproduce it. I wanted to make sure it was clear and make it an album that people could sing to each other, and I think we succeeded."

Part of that success comes with breakout the single "I'm Yours," which began as an online-only sensation after it appeared on a limited-released Mraz EP.

"That's a song about generosity, giving yourself to someone else, opening yourself to new opportunities and adventures," he says.

Mraz wrote "I'm Yours" in just 15 minutes four years ago.

"My favorite way to write a song is through improvisational exercises," he says. "It's about finding a melody and chords you love and opening your heart to it and seeing what happens to it naturally. I love that four years after the song was written, people are still embracing the song and adopting it as their own."

The CD also includes "Lucky," a collaboration with rising singer Colbie Caillat. They recorded together, rather than separately, which is more common, he says.

"I grew up watching classic music videos, where people share the microphone and earphones on one ear," Mraz says. "When you do a duet, it's got to be a real duet."

Mraz, who has been on and off the road since February, calls his show intimate and interactive.

"That's always been my goal, to not ask people to sit down and stare at us, but to sing along and shout things out and become part of the show," he says. "There's a lot of give and take. We adapt to whatever is going on."

Mraz had fans send in photos of themselves and their community for weeks before the concert, to be used as backdrop during the show.

Mraz also has a side project he's passionate about: an eco-friendly photography book, "a thousand things," documenting his worldwide travels. Graham Nash wrote the foreword.

"I wanted to show people what I like to look at, and that it's not what you would expect, hotels and behind-the-scenes things," Mraz says. "It's things around the world, architecture, animals, nature, wonderful things on this Earth I am very much at peace with."

He took the photos with a Polaroid Instant Camera.

"I wanted to choose photos that were slightly cinematic, that had a story to them," he says.

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