ALBUM REVIEW: JOHN MAYER ‘BORN AND RAISED’
Since John Mayer’s last album ‘Battle Studies’ was released, 2009, he has been through a disastrous roller coaster ride. He did two famous self-destructing interviews in 2010, one with Playboy and the other with Rolling Stone. The interviews turned out to be a blessing in disguise. After them, he pulled way back from the spotlight and went into hiding.
Then last year he was diagnosed with granulomas in his throat, next to the vocal cords. While not cancerous, it required surgery and a long and tedious recovery process; which made him postpone the album release 7 months. After the operation earlier this year Mayer announced that due to the return of the granulomas, he has been forced to cancel his tour and refrain from all singing indefinitely.
Now, this spring, using no notepad to write down the lyrics, composed solely by singing into a microphone, he has come up with his best album to date. ‘Born and Raised’ is his fifth studio solo album out now, through Columbia Records. The songwriter produced the record with Don Was (Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, the Rolling Stones).
You can tell that the time off from the spotlight was good for him; he had time to “dissect” all his past behavior and come back to reality and focus on what made him famous to start with; songwriting.
And songwriting he did. From the relief /weight lifting off his shoulders "Queen of California" as he sings about saying goodbye to his past mistakes “Goodbye cold, goodbye rain/Goodbye sorrow, goodbye shame.” To the folksy "The Age of Worry" “Don’t be scared to walk alone, don’t be scared to like it/Dream your dreams but don't pretend.” He shows us that he hasn’t lost sight of what he’s truly talented at.
The first single off of this album "Shadow Days," is an almost an open apology/reflection about the past couple years of his life. “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.”
"Something Like Olivia" is very hard not to fall in love with, or not sing along to for that matter; it has a very smooth simple classic rock sound to it.
The mellow title track "Born and Raised" is looking on the pessimistic side of things, yet it’s one of the most honest songs on the record. “I still have dreams, they're not the same/they don't fly as high as they used to.” Then things take a turn with the sappy bluesy love song "Love Is a Verb" “When you show me love/I don't need your words/Yeah love ain't a thing/Love is a verb.”
Every bluesy album has to have a song about drinking days away and the song "Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey” is just that. “I stayed up in New York City/ I tried to find the man I never got to be/ Oh I pushed down on the pavement/Found the whole thing so much harder than it seems.”
The most clever lyrics are those in the hopeful love song "A Face to Call Home," “You know my paper heart/ The one I fill with pencil marks/ I think I might have gone and inked you in.”
This album marks a new direction for the singer-songwriter. He has been transitioning into the bluesy direction for some time now, but it’s ever so apparent on this new album. Along with the bluesy transition he has also brought with him a country twang that’s hard to escape; not like you’d exactly want to.
Top Tracks: ‘Queen of California’, ‘Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey’, ‘Shadow Days”, "Something Like Olivia"