March 8, 2012 at 11:02 am #379487
1st Single: “Shadow Days” is top 10 on iTunes.
New Album: “Born and Raised” (Out May 22nd)March 8, 2012 at 12:14 pm #379489
Good thing he’s doing music again.March 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm #379491
I like the new single. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s a solid John Mayer track. Hopefully his album delivers. He’s never gonna top “Continuum”, but hopefully he can come close.March 8, 2012 at 2:41 pm #379492
Nice single! There are some riffs and progressions that are just like songs from his old albums, but I’m digging the sound and message to “Shadow Days.” I thought that he would be gone for awhile, but it’s good that he’s coming back with new material. Hope it delivers.March 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm #379493
I forgot all about John Mayer.May 26, 2012 at 11:23 am #379494
Time to get this thread moving again.
Reviews upcoming.May 26, 2012 at 11:33 am #379495
review: John Mayer’s “Born and Raised”
he likes it or not, five words have come to define John Mayer for many music
fans: “Your Body Is a Wonderland,” the title of the treacly 2001 ode to a lover
and her “porcelain skin” and “candy lips.” Also out of his control is the
suggestion generated by two other words in recent years, “Dear John,” the
Taylor Swift-penned hit that many speculate was about the pair’s brief romance.
lyrical description of a man with a “sick need to give love and then take it
away” introduced Mayer (at least those who believed “John” to be him) to a
legion of tweens who didn’t know Dave Matthews from John Mayer from Jerry
Garcia, couldn’t tell the difference between Christopher Cross and Crosby,
Stills, Nash and Young. Mayer to many became a man who played “dark twisted
games” with a delicate 19-year-old flower.
uttering the words “John Mayer” in mixed company (necessary now due to the
release of his sixth studio album, “Born and Raised”) will prompt a range of
polarizing opinions. Whether it’s the hits on one of his five platinum studio
albums stretching back to “Room for Squares” 11 years ago, his funny,
self-aware appearance on “Chappelle’s Show” or his charming (and on at least
one occasion, drunken) interactions with Ellen DeGeneres, the gestalt of his
rambunctious years has made him lovable and/or lascivious tabloid fodder.
perception, which he enabled at nearly every step of the way, was that he was a
man who moved through women like he did obvious metaphors. Combined, Mayer’s
charisma, devil-may-care attitude and many talents have run the risk of
canceling each other out. For much of the population, the first thing that
comes to mind when his name comes up isn’t “really good guitarist” but any
number of celebrity foibles in his past (i.e. Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Aniston
that was then, the songwriter and guitarist tells us over and again on “Born
and Raised” and during the media blitz in advance of the record. According to
Mayer during his most recent appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” he’s a
different man now. He quit Twitter. He retreated to Montana after the
corrupting pleasures of the big city did a number on him.
William Wordsworth and Henry David Thoreau before him, Mayer checked himself
through peaceful, easy rural isolation—and apparently listened to a lot of
Laurel Canyon folk rock. Getting called “twisted” by America’s sweetheart Swift
will do that to a man.
story on “Born and Raised,” produced by Don Was and recorded in New York and
Los Angeles, is one as old as the ages. Feeling alienated by the pressures of
the city, the Artist retreats to the country, where, cut off from the
distractions, he creates in solitude, along the way finding himself,
discovering what’s really important, weighing the adventure and corruption of
his old life against the quiet meditation of his greener surroundings.
“Born and Raised,” Mayer has found a cliché as big as the Montana sky, one that
contains multitudes of smaller clichés ripe for harvest.
do we know, for example, that canyon rock is on his mind? Because he
specifically mentions Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush” and Joni Mitchell’s
“Blue” in the opening song, “Queen of California,” which sounds like a Grateful
Dead cover of an Eagles song. “Joni wrote ‘Blue’ in a house by the sea,” sings
Mayer, “I gotta believe there’s another color waiting for me/To set me free.”
tries to experiment with color here, but as anyone who’s ever vigorously
finger-painted knows, combine too many colors and you create a single hue.
These lyrical scribbles color the entirety of “Born and Raised” beige. “I’m a
good man with a good heart,” he sings on “Shadow Days,” seeming to defend past
choices while acknowledging missteps. “Well I ain’t no troublemaker/And I never
meant her harm,” he explains before declaring his “shadow days” over.
the number of first-person pronouns on “Born and Raised” attests (130 by my
count), two years away from the city is a lot of “me” time for anyone, let
alone a longtime East Coaster. And like any human, so much self-reflection can
be self-distorting (see Kaczynski, Ted), can lead an artist to share internal
epiphanies that seem unique and powerful but are in actuality basic milestones
of life. That Mayer had a personal retreat when he was a wealthy,
multiple-Grammy-winning 34-year-old singer and songwriter doesn’t make him
unique, other than maybe as a late bloomer.
he does offer is an expert musicality filled with charm, honesty and melody,
and a peaceful, easy instrumental touch recorded by Was. It’s the Eagles as
channeled through Poco and America, with the singer’s voice way out front so as
to minimize the chance of misinterpretation: “Now and then I pace my place,” he
sings on the title track, “I can’t retrace how I got here.” On “If I Ever Get
Around to Living,” he sings of a desire for home and reminiscing of teenage
evenings spent alone in his room playing guitar.
evenings weren’t wasted. Throughout the album, Mayer offers evidence of his
guitar prowess, one that no doubt earned him much admiration as a tall, gawky
teenager and continues today whenever he lands onstage for a guest spot. As for
guest spots on his album, David Crosby and Graham Nash accompany him on the
title track. As his stint at the Berklee College of Music proves, it’s clear
Mayer can play guitar, and he does it ably throughout “Born and Raised.”
just not a very smart lyricist and has a hard time knowing what word
combinations are cheesy and which ones aren’t. “Love Is a Verb” is a virtual
remake of those old “Love is …” comics from the 1970s; Mayer describes the
word “love” by what it’s not: a thing, a crutch, an excuse, a pile of IOUs, or
(despite Bryan Ferry’s claim to the contrary) a drug.
the great twist is that love is no longer addictive? Or that it’s no longer,
you know, a thing? And if it’s not a thing, how to justify the title and
refrain of “Something Like Olivia,” in which Mayer longs for something—not
someone, mind you—like the girl of his dreams, and with one little pronoun
shift offers a glimpse into his proverbial soul. Quick, get this man something
like a girlfriend—or something like a writing partner.
May 26, 2012 at 11:48 am #379496
and Raised (2012)
by Melissa Maerz | May 23, 2012
Date: May 22, 2012; Lead Performance: John Mayer; Genre: Rock; Production:
Swift, are you listening? Because this is the closest thing to an apology that
you’re gonna get. After dumping America’s sweetheart, calling Jessica Simpson
”sexual napalm,” and dropping the N-word in Playboy, John Mayer is asking for
forgiveness. Kind of. ”I’m a good man with a good heart/Had a tough time, got
a rough start,” he sings on “Born and Raised.” ”But my shadow days are over
he’s had some time for soul-searching. Last year, after doctors discovered a
granuloma on his throat, he underwent surgery and was placed on indefinite
vocal rest. Meanwhile, he moved from L.A. to Montana, easing into a lifestyle
so mellow it requires a Stetson hat. Now he’s brought a laid-back country vibe
to “Born,” tapping Don Was (the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan) to produce and
draping his folk melodies in pedal steel and violin. The Laurel Canyon music
scene of the ’60s and ’70s is a major touchstone here: Mayer name-drops Joni
Mitchell on ”Queen of California” and harmonizes with David Crosby and Graham
Nash on the title track. And that ramble-tamble style suits him: You can
imagine the onetime king of the Sunset Strip running for the hills to strum his
guitar under Neil Young’s harvest moon. True, you can still play Spot the
Ex-Girlfriend in the lyrics. (Is ”Queen of California” about Jennifer
Aniston? Is ”Speak for Me” a response to Swift’s Mayer-hating on 2010’s “Speak
Now”?) But you can also hear Mayer confessing, in his most soulful voice, ”I’m
trying to find the man I never got to be.” And this time, you might believe
May 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm #379497
* * * stars (out of 5 stars)
have always been two John Mayers. There’s John the Musician, the neo-James
Taylor of “Daughters” and “No Such Thing,” and the
blues-guitar omnivore who can back Jay-Z and cover “Sweet Child o’
Mine.” Then there’s John the Dude, sloshing his TMI all over TMZ, blazing
a trail of famous ex-girlfriends, big-upping his supposedly racist johnson in a
disastrous 2010 Playboy interview. Usually, Mayer fastidiously cordons off his
music from his slash-and-burn public persona. But on his fifth album, he forces
them into the same room and demands they work things out.
is confessional and a little chastened on “Born and Raised,” sometimes
affectingly so. “It sucks to be honest and it hurts to be real,” he
sings on “Shadow Days,” about being burned by bad behavior. Mayer,
who in the past couple of years gave up Twitter, saw his parents divorce and
moved into a house in Montana, says he wants “Born and Raised” to evoke a
drifting cowboy sitting on the open range, strumming his guitar by the fire.
And it does, assuming the fire was built with old CSNY and Allman Brothers
records. (David Crosby and Graham Nash even add harmonies to “Born and
Raised,” an ode to hard-won self-awareness.) On “Queen of
California,” Mayer sets the amiably introspective tone for the album:
“Looking for the song that Neil Young hummed after the gold rush in
1971,” he sings, pointing his horse to the Laurel Canyon of the mind.
the Gold Rush actually came out in 1970, but you get the point: This is a
record about how hard it is to make arrangements with yourself when you’re old
enough to repay but young enough to sell. “Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey”
is a Cali-country song about the tolls of sport-boozing; the gentle-rolling
“Speak for Me” laments that rock doesn’t produce heroes like it once
did: “Now the cover of a Rolling Stone ain’t the cover of a Rolling
Stone,” he observes.
stylistic change-up and unburdening tone make for some of the most convincing
music of Mayer’s career. He recorded much of the LP with producer Don Was
before he had throat surgery last year, so his pillowy voice has a tug of
parched vulnerability. As usual, his playing is restrained and elegant; he’s a
singer-songwriter with a session man’s soul, so every breezy solo or
sun-dappled acoustic spindle is comfy and luxe like a spun-silk blanket.
course, this wouldn’t be a John Mayer record without a sweeping ballad that
tries to gather the spirit of the age into a song. The orchestral gusher
“Age of Worry” advises us—and, we assume, Mayer as well—to “make
friends with what you are.” But the true soul-stoker is “Love Is a
Verb,” a “Wonderful Tonight”-like slow dance that will loom over
the spring wedding season like a soft-rock Death Star. “When you show me
love/I don’t need your words,” he sings with a warm wink, leaving little
room for us to guess which verb is the best replacement for talking. It’s one
moment where the two Johns meet—kinda sensitive, kinda seamy. One hand on his
heart, the other on your thigh, ready to go all the way as only he can.
May 26, 2012 at 8:45 pm #379498
With some of the best reviews of his career (73 on Metacritic, a higher score than any of his other albums, including previous Album of the Year nominee Continuum), and set to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 next week, I think John Mayer is a strong contender for an Album of the Year nomination, especially if sales remain steady, and don’t drop quickly. If “Shadow Days” (or any of the album’s singles) crack the Top 10 on the Hot 100 (something none of his other singles have done yet to date), it will be hard to come up with an argument against a nomination for AOTY.May 27, 2012 at 7:26 am #379499
I’ll try to do a review soon, but briefly, this album has some of John Mayer’s most significant work to date. At first I thought that this country bumpkin phase of his was nothing but a contrivance, but the material more than speaks for itself (I mean, “Born & Raised” alone, goodness, just a gorgeous song). It’s too bad that his reputation has taken such a blow (and at his own doing—I’m not making any apologies for him), and he can’t promote this material properly. I doubt that this will be an Adele case where the album is a runaway WOM hit in spite of the artist’s health problems, but hopefully it’ll find its audience over time, and the initial I-Tunes success is a positive sign. And bringing this all home with Grammy talk, I think that voters will latch on to this album in a strong way.May 30, 2012 at 4:52 pm #379500
I feel like this whole “alt-folk-rock singer goes country” thing has been done already. Remember Ray Lamontagne’s “Good Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise”? That project had a very similar feel to this, everything from the sound right down to the cover art.May 31, 2012 at 8:09 am #379501
I sensed the possible image contrivance at first too, but I think the difference between this and Ray LaMontagne’s last effort was that “God Willing . . .” was in many ways still in LaMontagne’s sound and wheelhouse, so the shift wasn’t that noticeable or surprising to people. “Born & Raised” is new territory that Mayer hasn’t explored like this before. Maybe with his John Mayer Trio group, but as far as solo efforts go, this work is nothing like his prior albums. He’s more folksy and “country” than he’s ever been, and he’s created some of his most significant material yet. “Born & Raised,” “The Age of Worry,” “Shadow Days,” “Fool for You,” “Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey,” “Speak for Me,” “Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967” (horrible title aside, this song is amazing and worthy of a SOTY nomination), etc., are all standout tracks. He should be in the AOTY conversation, and the backstory behind this album is a hook-filled one (abandoning his big-city excesses, drugs, and fast women for country life, making amends for his many PR blunders over the years, and health problems that might prevent him from singing indefinitely). As far as category placements go, I’d be fine with the album going Rock or whatever Folk categories are in place right now. The album is probably a notch too plugged in for the Folk field. Rock would be fine, and there are some songs here that could easily be placed in Rock Song and Rock Performance. If he ends up going Pop, so be it, but this album shouldn’t be competing with works from contenders like Rihanna and Justin Bieber. But to maximize nods in this new roster, he’ll need to submit in multiple fields. The album’s great and well worth the listen.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.