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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Born and Raised - The Album Review, a feeble attempt.

Three years, and the boy who started off as an acoustic rock artist is finally making it as a blues musician; and what a treat that is to the ears. Given, there's still a lot more he could do with his voice but he has grown music wise. And now finally we get a glimpse of John Mayer the musician instead of John Mayer the tattooed celebrity who had girls drooling over his body rather than his music going all, OMG JOHNFREAKIN'MAYER! MARRY ME!!

He doesn't really experiment much with this album - it is classic Mayer but he lives up to it rather than shatter our hearts. (I do hope you're listening Martin for your album Mylo Xyloto after a long wait managed to do just that - get you all the commercial success in the world, but not a single track which would leave imprints on a loyal, music lover's mind.) Mayer on the other hand doesn't jump genres but traces roots back to folk rock of the 60s and early 70s and focuses a lot on California as an inspiration. It's a mix of folk-rock, country, blues and his personal favourite acoustic rock.

The backdrop of his lyrics is the personal struggle that he's faced, very publicly. But if there's one thing that makes for good music, it's certainly misery and pain. You can feel it in the title track when he goes "And all at once it gets hard to take, it gets hard to fake what I won't be.. Cause one of these days I'll be born and raised, and it's such a waste to grow up lonely."  However that's not all.. As mentioned before he draws from famous artists of an era long gone - Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and the likes. You can almost feel him jamming again with Clapton and King.

One of the first releases from this album, Shadow Days is a soulful track where he again puts beautifully into words and music as to how he isn't a bad boy, just misunderstood and been through a rough patch. (I’m a good man, with a good heart; had a tough time, got a rough start.. But I finally learned to let it go. Now I’m right here, and I’m right now; And I’m hoping, knowing somehow, That my shadow days are over, My shadow days are over now..) From being on the cover of The Rolling Stones in 2007 alongside Derek Trucks and John Frusciante as the guitar gods to be watched, to being ridiculed by the same magazine for his arrogance and condescending attitude - he has faced the bittersweet roller-coaster ride of fame (The track 'Speak of Me' hints at these incidents slightly when he sings, Now the cover of a Rolling Stone ain't the cover of a Rolling Stone; and the music on my radio ain't supposed to make me feel alone.. What a drag to know, I have to learn to let it go).  

From an acoustic guitar to a soothing resonant piano; from the tinge of a tambourine which somehow reminds one of Dylan's masterpieces to the pleasing harmonica - the album has an overall calming effect. A very John Mayer track that stood out to me was 'Love is a verb'. The lyrics to this one are heartfelt and this track will soon be taking up spots on playlists that were anxiously waiting for his voice. He daydreams of his youth when he was a nobody and asks himself, When you gonna wise up boy? He urges himself and the others to learn to live with loneliness and accept having to lead a life alone with a smile on your face as he croons, Build your heart an army to defend your innocence; while you do everything wrong.. Don't be scared to walk alone; Don't be scared to like itin a tone of optimism that he does best (Remember 'Heart of Life' from his album Continuum?)

This album comes very close to my personal favourite by Mayer, Try! recorded live alongwith Palladino and Jordan, forming the famous and acclaimed John Mayer Trio. He has most certainly given this album his best shot and you see him mature not just as an artist but as an individual too, for his album speaks volumes of his inner conflicts and he goes about them like a storyteller more than a songwriter which is what wins my heart.

Overall, it's not really life changing music but a refreshing change from the likes of Bieber, Minaj and Gaga which string together rhyming words or repeat the same ones incessantly. My personal top three would be:
1. Shadow Days
2. Love is a verb
3. If I ever get around to living

Mayer fans, get yourself a copy of this album today and you will not regret it. And non-Mayer fans, this might just be what converts you. Welcome back John Clayton Mayer! You were so worth the wait.

And here's a picture for the hopeful and eager eyes.
I couldn't resist it; all the music aside, he is pretty fucking hot

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