Verdict: 5 / 5
Reviewed by Juan Visser
“Now and then I pace my place/I can’t retrace how I got here/I cheat the light to check my face/It’s slightly harder than last year” – Lyrics from Born & Raised
Everybody reacts differently when someone mentions John Mayer. Some might think he is a blues legend, while some only know him as the “your body is a wonderland” guy.
Either way, he has continuously reinvented himself and his style, always leaving his audience guessing what he’s going to do next. This time around John has changed both his sound and his look – resembling Johnny Depp somewhat.
So what is different? John Mayer has, to much surprise, gone country with his latest album “Born & Raised”. Bursting with big melodic organ & harmonica sections, with his natural intricate guitar styles, it promises to put you in a cheerful mood no matter what the weather is like. This album is perfect road trip music to say the least, push up the volume and roll down the window while driving down the countryside and you might find yourself in music nirvana. Mayer steps away from many things that we’ve come to expect from him, not just a slight genre nudge. His music was often guitar and vocal driven, but now he’s stepping into a much larger musical realm, using many other instruments to create a melodic canvas to get where he wants to go, instead of his trusty guitar. This means that the tracks carry so much more depth and dynamic than before.
Even though the album was delayed due to granulomas being discovered in his throat, obstructing his vocal cords, his vocal work seems far more intricate on Born & Raised. Forced to rest his throat, he decided to tour the countryside instead. Perhaps the reason for all the “country” influences?
“Now the cover of Rolling Stone/Ain’t the cover of a Rolling Stone/And the music on my radio/Ain’t supposed to make me feel alone” – Lyrics from Speak for Me
Many guitarists will tell you that John Mayer is a blues idol, creating some of the best guitar work for blues in the past decade. He has been sized up and has played alongside legends such as B.B King and Eric Clapton. All this begs the question; if he is such a talented artist, why does he continue to play adult contemporary? In my opinion, John Mayer is avoiding being put in a box. He wants people to think they’ve seen the whole picture, as if they know who John is. And that’s when he pulls the rug up from under their feet once more. Born & Raised definitely demonstrates that.