Bull’s review of John Mayer’s new album: Last week we got a sneak preview and heard John Mayer’s entire new album Born and Raised, which is due out on May 22.  Let me just say that I am not a lover of much of the music today, but this album really speaks to me musically and lyrically.  One of the songs (track #4) on the album “Speak For Me” sort of represents my previous sentence. 

This album is produced, written, performed and delivered like a classically great album; with a consistent feel and sound, concept, excellent songs, incredible musicians and engineers on the album.  The mix in phenomenal as well. Check out the artwork (above) it matches the concept of the music so well.  This album could have been released in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s or on May 22, 2012 and be a ‘classic album’.  I absolutely love this sound and feel of this album as you can tell.  Influences of Neil Young, Tom Petty, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, The Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, are heard all over it.    

We hear a really honest John Mayer on this album, and after we listened to the complete album he gave us his take on the album and the state of the music business today from his perspective.  He mentioned the theory, which I believe and have experienced in my 17+ years in the music business, how music styles/genres are cyclical.  He mentioned how music is very ‘loud’ right now, meaning all the dance/club/gaga style music all over radio and how he feels like we are all at a club at 12 in the afternoon while driving in the car; it seems like the level of ‘loud’ is almost at its peak. I really connect with this statement as well.  In the song “Speak For Me” it seems like he is asking; who on radio, what artist is out there that I can I relate to, who is representing me and my tastes? right?  This is one of the very few artists on radio today, which I feel speaks to me.

He also mentioned how he is not trying to knock anyone off the charts, he is just trying to make good music, and this is the way to do it.  He does not have to be ‘cool’ and is okay with being grouped with some mellow artists on a Pandora playlist, for example.  He gets it now…he does beautiful music, with nothing to prove and nothing to ask forgiveness for.  

Speaking of forgiveness — he says that quitting Twitter was the best thing he did (reading 85% of the responses as a wave of anger and negative feedback is never fun). I enjoy Twitter and get a lot of news and insight via this tool, but I get it from his perspective.  It is like getting hundreds of small punches in the gut each time he opened up and looked a the @mentions; forget about it, I get it.  Regardless, It is clear he has a lot to get off his chest and forgive (himself), re-start, and clear — thus the single “Shadow Days”.  It is great to feel like that rut or rough patch is behind you.  You take those lessons and start strong and with confidence for all the millions possibilities ahead.  

My favorite tracks on the album (disclaimer via first listen/impression only): “Queen of California” will likely be the second single, it is one of the strongest songs on the album and I love it.  ”Something Like Olivia” is my favorite song, it is the best modern day blues song that I have heard in years, and what a cool, clever little concept as well. simple, fun, and blues.  ”Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey” is really great and nice to listen to also, cool songwriting.  Girls will like “A Face To Call Home” - which is good, and it seems like his current girlfriend has him settled and focused for now.  And not going on tour just yet will also help him in that department (I’ll talk more about this in a second). I really dig the first single “Shadow Days” for multiple levels of reasons and interpretations.

When talking to John about the album, I mentioned that we would be in Vegas to watch him perform on May 5.  He was sort of like…hmmmm, I am not sure how to explain, but he sort of avoided that comment for a bit and then said.  Well, I’d rather be home writing.  I get it.  When you are inspired and you got it, you have to write.  I knew that he wanted to get that next album written and recorded and released a year after this one.  He must have sensed that something was up and what I did not know at the time…until I happened to see his blog today (I have not seen it in a year) is that his vocal chord problems are back and that he will have to cancel his tour.  His focus: repair his vocal chords/throat with medicine, therapy and maybe more surgery and of course: just get to writing this next album while he is in that awesome state of creative flow!  As for me…it is a good thing that I did not book my hotel in Vegas for May yet.  

John recognizes that he performs clean beautiful music, and that is just what comes out.  As a writer you may love hard rock music, or blues, or want to be a certain genre or type of artist.  But…in the end, you are who you are, and if you are a true musician and songwriter, what comes out of you is what you are, and you should not fight it.  After a 10 year career John is now fully and unapologetically okay with that — and so are we.

I hope you listen, enjoy, and support this new album.  It is great, and we need more of this type of music in the market.  Guys, the class of ‘the early ’00s has some really great material: Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, Jason Mraz, Alicia Keys, and John Mayer was such a great flux of beautiful music and really great singer-songwriters.  Hopefully there will be a new generation in this next cycle coming soon!

5/22/12

1. Queen of California

2. The Age of Worry

3. Shadow Days

4. Speak for Me

5. Something Like Olivia

6. Born and Raised

7. If I Ever Get Around To Living

8. Love is a Verb

9.  Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967

10. Whisky, Whisky, Whisky

11. A Face To Call Home

12. Born and Raised (Reprise)

Notes

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