Jason Mraz surfs, grows avocados and promises that he won't bum you out with his love songs. The American singer-songwriter, who rose to fame with the catchy 2008 hit song I'm Yours, is back with a new album called Yes!.

It's the follow-up to his 2012 Grammy-nominated album Love Is a Four Letter Word. This time, Mraz has added the ethereal vocals and instrumentals of the all-female group Raining Jane, which adds a creative new layer to his sound. The band worked with Mraz for eight years, developing a musical relationship and eventually composing songs for the album.

'The understanding of how women are made to look small or be small in society has rubbed off on me' - Jason Mraz, American singer-songwriter

"Being with them for so long, the importance of not being gender-specific has rubbed off on me and the understanding of how women are made to look small or be small in society has rubbed off on me," Mraz told CBC Arts Reporter Zulekha Nathoo. "They're not my backing band. They actually set the pace."

His music -- a mix of pop-rock, folk and soul -- lends itself to performing in intimate settings and this album is no different. Mraz started his career singing in San Diego coffeehouses in 2000. Even after winning two Grammy awards and achieving international commercial success, Mraz says there's something special about playing in front of a smaller audience.

"I found that when I play larger settings, I get disconnected. I become a little more generic," Mraz says. "When I play in a smaller venue, I'm more likely to tell stories and not follow a set list or a script, and have more of a direct connection with my own soul as well as this audience that's standing by."

While he's known for his singing and songwriting, the 37-year-old musician has another passion: farming. Mraz is a self-professed "gentleman farmer". On his five acres of land in San Diego, Mraz grows avocados, cucumbers, squash, passion fruit, mangoes and guava. Mraz gives his friends doggy bags to take home at the end of a dinner party, and plans to preserve his crops for a full vegan Christmas dinner this December.

"We're still in experimentation mode," he says. "Every year, you learn through the seasons."