John Mayer was doing fine as a pop star before his somewhat predictable swerve towards the blues, presumably in pursuit of a veneer of authenticity, then back towards pop for his last album, Battle Studies.
This time around, he’s into Americana and 1960s folk (including a Dylan pose in the sleeve photo), and although there’s a new maturity in his lyrics, he’s still a pop songwriter at heart.
He gets the sound right in The Age of Worry, Speak For Me and the whimsical storytelling of Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967, while the title track recalls Crosby, Stills and Nash (Queen of California sounds like he’s been listening to the Eagles, too).
Shadow Days, If I Ever Get Around To Living and Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey are simply twanging garnish on acoustic pop songs, however, and he ditches the garnish for a Jack Johnson sound in the bluesy Something Like Olivia, Love Is A Verb and A Face To Call Home.
Best tracks: Speak For Me, Born and Raised.
- Reviews by Nick Ward; CDs from Everyman, Nelson.
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