Review of Jason Mraz's live album Beautiful Mess - Live on Earth released through Atlantic Records.
Recorded live in Chicago in August 2009, 'Beautiful Mess - Live On Earth' is a CD and DVD set from the love-him or hate-him, Jason Mraz.
Live albums can go either way. They can be a great success if you were desperate for a ticket to the concert but missed out, or if you did attend and thought it a life-changing gig. However, this is definitely not an album for those not already in the pro-Mraz camp; particularly with the amount of simpering on show from the audience and general showboating from the man himself.
You know it's going to be a rough ride when the opening chords of first track 'Sunshine Song', complete with shrill screaming from the audience, feel as though they are never going to end. It's unfortunate to report that the screaming remains throughout the album; another negative of releasing a live record.
Mraz, and thus the album, jumps from one musical genre to another; jazz, blues, reggae, notably 'Anything You Want', and pop are all in there, which may be to indicate Mraz is a versatile talent, but comes across as though he doesn't have a particular passion for any of them.
'Lucky', a duet with Colbie Caillat, is just too sickly sweet. Featuring the lyrics; "lucky I'm in love with my best friend/lucky to have been where I have been." the duet isn't believable; particularly when viewed on the DVD, as Mraz and Caillat have no on-stage rapport.
The fifteen track album seems especially long due to Mraz's continuing attempts to involve the audience. Before 'Beautiful Mess', for instance, the listener is subjected to calls of ".let's send a sound all across this town, let's send a sound all the way round the world, let's send a sound into outer space." Now, you would hope the audience would just turn around and walk out, but they lap it up easily, which encourages Mraz to continue along the same path for a few minutes. This is the point you realise there is no question that only those who attended this concert would enjoy listening to this album.
The cover of Lionel Richie's 'All Night Long' is one of the strongest tracks on the album; here you can't take anything away from Mraz's versatility, but this could also be attributed to the popularity of the well-known record and its ability to encourage mass shoulder rolls amongst the audience. In short, it was unlikely to fail.
Mraz's chart-breaking track 'I'm Yours' pops up in the second half of the album. It is testament that this relatively bland song is what Mraz is best known for; yet another perfect track for when you want a bit of background noise, but are not actually interested in listening.
This CD/DVD set would make the perfect present for Mraz fans; he doesn't stray from what he knows and he obviously loves what he does. However, under no circumstances must this be bought for somebody who is unmoved by the thought of Mraz. The purchase of such an inessential album for the unconverted would most likely end your relationship.