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Published: Friday, 4/8/2005

Mraz raps and rails against absurdities

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The words fly by, jazzy and loose, the images frying over a rhythmic flame. They resonate from the mouth of Jason Mraz, a 21st century beat poet armed with a guitar and dangerous ideas, who mostly sings but partly raps his way through songs that rail against the absurdities all around us.

And what muse could be more absurd and emotionally roiling than relationships, which Mraz says are the source of most of his lyrical inspiration.

Mraz, who will be in concert tomorrow in Bowling Green, put his shrewd eye for love to work on his first hit single, "You and I Both," a plaintive tune that seemed to be a celebration but then slipped into uncertainty. Is it a song about a blossoming relationship, or a love that's wilting fast? On this as on other tunes, Mraz likes to leave the lyrics open to the listener's interpretation.

A 28-year-old singer-songwriter, Mraz grew up in Mechanicsville, Va., and moved to New York to study theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in the mid-1990s.

After strumming and singing through Manhattan and the Strawberry Fields section of Central Park, he decided that music was calling him more than the theater, and he headed back to Mechanicsville to hone his songwriting.

In 1999, Mraz moved to San Diego, started playing at local coffeehouses, and eventually was signed by Elektra Records.

His 2002 debut disc, "Waiting for My Rocket to Come," showed his lyrical wit and humor, along with a bouncy folk-rock style reminiscent of fellow Virginian Dave Matthews.

Mraz says, in fact, that upon seeing Matthews in concert he realized that "you don't have to be boring when you play guitar."

His second disc, "Tonight Not Again: Jason Mraz Live," came out last year and included a live album plus a concert DVD.

The songwriter not only invests his words into music, but also spends a formidable amount of time putting his freewheeling and amusing observations into his online journal on the Web (www.jasonmraz.com), most recently describing his aversion to the olfactory unpleasantries as a captive coach-class passenger on a cross-country flight; his determination to acquire a taste for olives, and a jagged critique of Details magazine's decision to feature Kevin Federline (Mr. Britney Spears) on its cover.

Jason Mraz will be in concert at 8 p.m. tomorrow in Anderson Arena at Bowling Green State University, with Kyle Riabko opening. Tickets are $20. Information: 419 372-2741.

Contact David Yonke at:

dyonke@theblade.com or

419-724-6154.



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