So every single review of this album everywhere starts off saying the same things. They all talk about how pretty much everyone knows about John Mayer tumultuous years a few back, with an infamous Playboy interview and a possible connection with T-Swizzles “Dear John” where she takes a stab at him in a teenage, “you’re the worst person in the world because you hurt me”, kind of way. Anyways, maybe it’s just me, because I’ve tried not staying wrapped up in todays pop culture, but thats never really been a sticking point. When I think of John Mayer I think of Room For Squares, I think of “Gravity”, “Daughters”, “Half of My Heart”. In other words, I think of his music.
Which is exactly what John realized he needed to do. After screwing things up in his life and becoming our generations Charlie Sheen (the bad boy, not the crack head), he retreated to Montana and stayed out of the public’s eye for about a year and a half. A lot changed in that time. He quit Twitter, which is hard, I’ve recently become addicted myself. His parents divorced, and more importantly had throat surgery after developing granuloma. More importantly, he changed his sound. With his retreat to Montana, Mayer ditched his city blues sound for a more country, Cali western sound. This drastic change may alienate some fans, but the change is ultimately good.
The opening song “Queen of California” is an immediate indication of the new Mayer. It’s a song that has been likened to that of The Eagles, which is fairly accurate if you ask me. The new Mayer is also a repentant Mayer. After his years of being a wild bachelor, the time he took to pull a Henry David Thoreau made him fully realize his ways and make an album talking alllll about it. “The Age of Worry”, “Shadow Days”, “Speak For Me”, “Born & Raised”, “If I Ever Get Around To Living” and “Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey” are 6 out of the 12 tracks that are very plainly dealing with his city time. It’s like he’s taking 12 songs to say “I’m sorry guys, didn’t mean to be a douche.”
With that said, he actually is making some pretty good music. As previously mentioned, when some people think about Mayer they think about the bachelor. I think, really good guitar player. He displays his prowess in this album very well, but in a relaxed way. Mayer was at the peak of performing, as was evident by his last live album. Both his vocals and his blues chops were being displayed left and right like fireworks. He was good and he knew he was good. Born & Raised shows us that he knows he’s good, but would rather make good music than show off. A good number of these songs are very relaxed, and focus more on John’s husky quality of his voice to wrap the listener in, which has been his major drawing point. Yet something that he even mentions in his song “Speak For Me”stuck out to me. He criticizes the radio because there aren’t songs that he can enjoy singing along to, there’s no worth while songs out there anymore. Which is why I like this album. After about the second run through of this album, I found myself WANTING to sing along, and pretty much figuring out the chorus’ right then and there of ALL the songs. That does say a lot about the album. It’s something that I haven’t enjoyed from Mayer since Room For Squares.
Without going into too much more of this album, this is a pretty good one. It’s interesting to see the juxtaposition of two recent albums, this one and Bluderbuss. Both high profile singers, two very active careers, White puts out an album that doesn’t really have anything to do with his personal life, and Mayer puts out one ALL about his life. Perhaps my only criticism of this album is that it can get kind of mundane. All of the tracks are generally relaxed, with only “Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967” and “Born & Raised – Reprise” offering distinct change ups in tempo and feeling. Also some of the lyrics can be not that great. At one point he sings “I’m not mad about it. But I’m not mad about it.”. What? Anyway, If you’re a die hard Mayer fan, you might be taken aback with his sound. Yet if you’re a casual fan, this should go up there with Room For Squares and Continuum. Here’s hoping he stays away from Playboy for a bit.
Born & Raised was released May 22 off Columbia Records.