John Mayer released his fifth studio album, Born and Raised, after a few rough years and a heavy dose of bad PR. An all-too-revealing Playboy interview about his exes Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Aniston was a TMZ dream come true and a reputation nightmare. Vocal cord trouble also resulted in a cancelled tour and the delay of his latest album release. His health and morality may have come into question as of late, but the success of his music has never been doubted. Born and Raised is no exception, and just may be his best yet.
The album takes on a warm, folk-rock vibe from beginning to end. In contrast with his previous albums, there is an absence of catchy, up-beat “Waiting For The World To Change” sort of tracks. All twelve songs keep a mid to slow tempo with little variation speed wise. This may take some getting used to for fans, but after a few listens it’s hard not to fall in love with the new album. Straying from the more mainstream pop style in Battle Studies and Continuum may have been a risky move, but when you’re John Mayer you can pretty much do whatever you please with confidence that it will be a huge success.
The lyrical songs have a stripped down sense of maturity to them. Mayer asks deep questions about life and and appears much more humble, perhaps learning from his recent mishaps. The pre-released single, “Shadow Days” comes across as apologetic and regretful. ”Well I’m not a trouble maker/And I never meant her harm/But it doesn’t mean I didn’t make it/Hard to carry on.” It seems that he could be referring to his highly publicized relationship with Jennifer Aniston. The lyrics claims that his “shadow days” have come to an end, so can we expect a refined gentlemanly John Mayer for the next lucky girl? We will just have to see.
Mayer kicks off the album with “Queen of California”, a track with bluegrass and country undertones. It appropriately sets the stage for the rest of the album’s Americana vibe. The title track has the most bluesy feel of all and features background vocals from David Crosby and Graham Nash. ”Love Is a Verb” and “A Face to Call Home” closely resemble the John Mayer that we are used to and may be early fan favorites. Born and Raised is not exactly what we would expect from Mayer, but it is one of those albums that grows on you with each listen.
The singer announced in the spring that doctors found a granuloma on his vocal cords, but there are no signs of vocal trouble on the new album. The raspy soothing sound that is John Mayer delivers crafted and genius lyrics that just don’t seem to get old. Mayer has once again shown us he is crazy good at making music. This time, it just feels like he has grown up.
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. “Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey”
11. “A Face to Call Home”
12. “Born and Raised (Reprise)”
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