John Mayer

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Room for Squares (2001), 5/10
Heavier Things (2003), 5/10
Continuum (2006), 6/10
Battle Studies (2009), 4/10
Born and Raised (2012), 5/10
Paradise Valley (2013), 4/10
The Search for Everything (2017), 4/10
Sob Rock (2021), 5.5/10

Atlanta's singer-songwriter John Mayer started out with two mellow acoustic pop albums: Room for Squares (2001), with the lively No Such Thing, the bluesy Neon, the twangy Love Song for No One and the dreamy Your Body Is a Wonderland, and Heavier Things (2003), with the poppy Split Screen Sadness and Bigger Than My Body besides the somber Wheel, and some interesting guitarwork in Daughters and in the slow, bluesy Come Back to Bed (that could have been on an Eric Clapton album).

He formed a soul-rock trio for Continuum (2006), an album that introduced three reference points: Van Morrison (best emulated in the single Waiting on the World to Change, but also in the somnolent bluesy ballad Gravity, in the blues-jazz I'm Gonna Find Another You and in the orchestral ballad Say), Jimi Hendrix's singing (not the guitar pyrotechnics), whose Bold as Love gets covered here; and Leon Russell, whose organ-tinged sound inspires Vultures and the solemn six-minute serenade In Repair. There are also simpler songs that lean towards folk (The Heart of Life) and country (Stop This Train).

Battle Studies (2009) has only the atmospheric and gamelan-tinged Assassin that breaks the monotony.

He veered towards Nashville's country music on Born and Raised (2012), with the Kenny Rogers-ian Queen of California, the breezy Something Like Olivia and the romantic A Face to Call Home, but the album is mostly monotonous, and on Paradise Valley (2013), that mostly feels like the leftovers of the previous album but also contains Who You Love, a duet with Katy Perry (that mainly proves how bad a singer she is and how bad a lyricist he is), and especially the honkytonking Call me the Breeze, his best song in a while (finally some music!).

The Search for Everything (2017) was perhaps an attempt to recapture the blues-soul-folk-pop fusion of Continuum but the songs are only half-baked attempts at that style with no real winner.

The divorce-themed Sob Rock (2021) was another collection of mellow, nostalgic mildly-rocking tunes, from Last Train Home (reminiscent of Toto's Africa) to the lame dance-pop single New Light. But there is also a honest outpouring of feelings in All I Want is to be with You and I Guess I Just Feel Like, and there's an unusual melodic focus (Til the Right one Comes and Shot in the Dark and especially Wild Blue).

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