Jason Mraz, “Yes!” (Atlantic)
Mraz’s new album would more accurately be called “What?!” The “I’m Yours” singer is once again embracing his more experimental interests with good results. That means we get an unexpected, stripped-down but still faithful version of Boyz II Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” that is surprisingly beautiful. We get the uplifting folkie cliffhanger of “3 Things,” which starts with “There are three things I do when my life falls apart.” Unfortunately, it also means we get some songs that are a little too cutesy (“Hello, You Beautiful Thing”) or straightforwardly earnest (“Best Friend”).
Glenn Gamboa, Newsday
Jenny Lewis directed the video for her new “Just One of the Guys,” the first single from her album “The Voyager” due July 29. This slice of soft pop is more appealing in its video form, thanks to an all-female band featuring Kristen Stewart, Anne Hathaway, Brie Larson and Tennessee Thomas that performs with all the blank-faced enthusiasm of Robert Palmer’s backup musicians in his classic videos. That’s when these women aren’t in drag, acting like dorky guys in track suits. The song’s punchline, though, is sad: “I’m just another lady without a baby.” Streaming at http://tinyurl.com/moc2pwl