Go ahead and let the mockery begin, but I’ve always been a John Mayer girl. I may or may not have cried during his concert when he performed “Gravity” but give me a break, that was back in high school and the lyrics spoke to my soon-to-be-graduating soul. Regardless of the torment, I love Mayer’s bluesy style and lyrics, and that’s why I’m having some trouble adjusting to his new album Born and Raised.
Starting today, and for a limited time, you can stream Mayer’s album, in its entirety, on iTunes for free. There’s been heavy promotion for this album, with a good majority of the tracks being previewed before this streaming opportunity and way before the release date of May 22nd. I’m not sure what the reasoning is behind these early releases but I’m not complaining about it. Unfortunately though, after listening to the album, I do have other complaints.
Mayer flat out said that he was trying to bring some country soul into this new album. I could understand some folksy aspects, but country? Why John? One of my best friends and fellow Mayer lover used a word that I think perfectly describes this new album: “swang.” It’s got a hint of John Mayer in it, his usual bluesy swag (if that’s not too much of an oxymoron for you to accept) with an uncomfortable mix of twang.
I do really enjoy the track Something Like Olivia, but I think that’s just because it’s the most John Mayer-esque track on the entire album. Listening to it was like slipping into my favorite old T-shirt after a tiresome day at the mall trying on clothes, none of which fit just right. It’s a stand out track on this album just because it sounds like what we John Mayer fans want. On any of his old albums, I’m not sure it would hold as much power. Love is a Verb and Whiskey Whiskey Whiskey are solid tracks on the album, although fairly repetitive, but again, I’m just grasping at anything that sounds reminiscent of his old stuff. Another track, Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967, has some interesting lyrics. I can see myself playing this one while driving the back roads this summer, but it starts out with a saxophone playing. John Mayer, good sir, what are you trying to do here?
Don’t get me wrong. I respect what Mayer is trying to do, especially with the health issues that he’s been going through. Earlier this year he had to cancel his nationwide tour and his career is on hold because of a serious throat condition. But even with all of that, I feel like he kind of lost himself. A defined artist such as Mayer should be able to venture out and experiment with his sound without losing all recognition of his style. Honestly, I wouldn’t even put Born and Raised in the same genre as Continuum and Room for Squares.
I’ll keep listening though. I didn’t have a stellar first reaction to Heartbreak Warfare and it eventually grew on me, and I’ll take a closer look at the lyrics because I tend to fall in love with those after 5 or 6 listens. But I’m still kind of hesitant about this one. I just want to know what happened John? Where are the Continuum style songs that I fell in love with at the prime age of 16? I just kind of feel like Gravity was really working against you on this one.
And can we please look at that picture. I’m not only asking what happened to the music, what happened to him?