John Mayer’s trials and tribulations over the last few years have compromised the man that he was slowly becoming. From high profile relationships with Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson, to making odd remarks in Playboy and Rolling Stone magazines, and even granulomas in his throat, Mayer has seen a fair bit of controversy and tribulation. Inspired by it, he secluded himself for a couple of years, and put together Born and Raised, an album of release and redemption that explores a nostalgic style of music that no one saw coming.
I’ve always viewed John Mayer as a guy who’s guitar talent far outweighs his pop sensibility. We’ve gotten glimpses of it with albums like TRY! and Continuum, but at the same time are guitar style albums as translatable compared to a live show? Some yes, some no; not everybody can be Stevie Ray Vaughan. Mayer is a guy that knows what he likes, and pop music is where he dwells. On Born and Raised, he abandons his traditional pop venues and goes for a retro 70’s pop/rock sound, channeling artists like The Allman Brothers Band, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Jackson Browne in their prime.
“Queen of California” is the perfect summer traveling song, that see’s Mayer leaving all that relationship baggage behind him. Going so far as to say that the ghost of these women are gone. The song actually references Neil Young’s Harvest album and Joni Mitchell’s Blue, but strangely enough, the melody is reminiscent of Allman Brother’s “Ramblin’ Man.” “The Age of Worry” is an airy song that serves as a message to the younger generation, but has crossover appeal to everyone. It’s lyrical content pertains to guarding yourself against your mistakes while embracing them at the same time. The melody feels very gigantic through simple and beautiful instrumentation. “Shadow Days” still holds up as being a really solid track and a personal favorite on the record.
Despite the decade fix, this album has a ton of variety for fans alike. Don’t let the somber tone ruin the experience, this album is lyrically driven first and foremost. “Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967” is the album’s stand out; opening with a great smooth trumpet solo by the wonderful Chris Botti, the drum driven track is a great fantasy, littered with lullaby-ish sounds and an almost “Yellow Submarine” subject. Whatever your Mayer preference is, he changes up expectations and delivers an album that feels very much like Jack White’s new album Blunderbuss; a great sense of release. Sadly Mayer will be sidelined for a while, but until then, fall in love with this.
Album Rating: Stream It or Digitally Download It (Legally of course)
Listening Co-efficient: Active Listen
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