Friday, 18 May 2012
REVIEW: JOHN MAYER-BORN & RAISED
Mellow Music By John Mayer.
What started as a treatment of 'throat granuloma' and an album push-back has resulted in a serious throat condition leading to a cancelled tour and postponement of singing by John Mayer one of mainstream musics modern marvels. If this is the last we hear from John Mayer then it really will be a tragedy. With that being said, right now what we hear and are left with from Mayer's music box is a great new album 'Born and Raised'.
After great albums from Bruce Springsteen (the big 'Wrecking Ball') and Norah Jones (the classic, soulful 'Little Broken Hearts') to start 2012 its only right musics Americana gets one from John Mayer this year. The man who was 'Waiting On The World To Change' and 'Slow Dancing In A Burning Room' as he defined the last decade of amazing albums with the cult classic 'Continuum' is back. He returns with legacy makers Crosby, Stills and Nash as the legends back Mayer's vocals on his own Neil Young, 'Harvest' esque sunny, Summer, sweet and sedate acoustic record.
Crosby, Stills and Nash will be proud of 'Queen Of California' too. "Hello beauty, hello strange/Hello wonder, what's your name?/Looking for the sun that Neil Young hung/After the gold rush of 1971/I just found out her ghost left town/The Queen of California is stepping down, down", Mayer sings being a Young away from a true supergroup forming. This is a classic beach bare, stripped down Los Angeles slow rock classic built for the sun and the boardwalk. The inspired 'Age Of Worry' could find itself at home on an Irish folk album while 'Shadow Days' really illuminates this phoenix rising from the ashes. After the sweet 'Battle Studies' that some labeled 'Safe', this rock student is back in the war studying the classic hallmarks of legendary American singer/songwriters.
'Speak For Me' sings more for Mayer as he shows the world he's back and here to stay even if it doesn't involve "the cover of a Rolling Stone". 'Something Like Olivia' is a delightful devoted blues jam to boot. The 'Victoria' singer looks to find his new muse with a sweet steadiness. The album title track 'Born and Raised' and its 'Reprise' are classic numbers for a record that looks at the growth of acoustic singing and songwriting and where it all came from. These cool, laid back cuts may not be for every mainstream fan but they serve as the perfect craft choice for the next chapter of rocks young leading man. A ground breaker who looks to follow all the greats in the musical territories that helped pave the way for the landscapes of their respective legacies.
'If I Ever Get Around To Living' makes the most of an album that really takes off in its adolescence. A second-half and final act that sees words-worth songwriting like 'Love Is A Verb' and perfect production like the hypnotic horns and haunting harmonies on 'Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967'. Then Mayer laments and yearns 'Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey' on the drowned sorrows of a introspective love and life song that hits the rocks with a twist. Its clear to hear this man has rebounded from his self confessed 'douchebag' years with a more grown-up sound and mature outlook. This is tried and tested and ready for the bar blues like old scotch.
'A Face To Call Home' is a beautiful song that really closes this C.D. with class. "I am an architect/of days that haven't happened yet" Mayer sings making himself again feel welcome as a household name and face amongst the mainstream music masses. From the days of his Edward Scissorhand 'Continuum' curls Johnny Mayer has always drawn Johnny Depp lookalike comparisons and now with his new long hair, beard and stetson the two Hollywood heartthrobs even dress the same. Art is looking to imitate life too as just like Depp's 'Tourist', 'Rum Diary' and 'Dark Shadows' movies with 'Born and Raised' and the previous 'Battle Studies' Mayer is playing it sweet and safe. There is nothing wrong with this as the quality is still in control but just like Depp once John starts taking more risks like the ones that highlighted his unique career things will get more creative and classic. His discography like his first namesakes filmography deserves this. In the catalogue this is just a fun and fancy footnote. The best-hopefully-is yet to come. TIM DAVID HARVEY.