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Pop/Rock - Released August 16, 2013 | Columbia

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John Mayer's 2013 album, the Americana-tinged Paradise Valley, is an introspective if somewhat more upbeat affair than his similarly country-inflected 2012 release, Born and Raised. With that album, Mayer was coming off a rough career patch that found him issuing a mea culpa for an infamously loose-lipped 2010 Rolling Stone interview. Making matters worse, in 2011 the singer/songwriter announced he would be going on extended hiatus from performing while he received treatment for granulomas found near his vocal cords. Subsequently, with Born and Raised, Mayer moved away from the commercial pop of 2010's Battle Studies and toward an intimate, largely acoustic, '70s Laurel Canyon-inspired sound with songs that featured plenty of apologetic soul-searching. Named after the Montana river valley where Mayer owns a cabin and spends much of his time when not touring, Paradise Valley continues in this more intimate country-folk style and often feels less like a stand-alone album and more like a companion piece to Born and Raised. Which isn't to say it's a lesser work. On the contrary, Paradise Valley actually hangs together better than Born and Raised, with songs that achieve a balance between Mayer's electric Eric Clapton influence and his softer James Taylor-inspired side. Although his self-imposed period of supplication seems to have ended, Mayer still has plenty of troubles on his mind. Whether comparing his life on the road to the life of an old girlfriend he webstalks online, as he does on "Dear Marie," or struggling with his wanderlust and inability to call one place home, as he does on "Badge and Gun," Mayer is clearly still struggling with some of life's bigger issues. As he sings to his old girlfriend on "Dear Marie," "Yeah I got that dream, but you got yourself a family." It's this knack for turning his personal worries into universally relatable ones that helps Mayer avoid coming off as too self-absorbed and entitled. It is also this ability that helps him finesse "Paper Doll" from simply being a nasty swipe at rumored onetime paramour Taylor Swift (Swift purportedly wrote the song "Dear John" after being dumped by Mayer) into a superbly crafted and gorgeous song about romancing someone more emotionally vulnerable than yourself. Elsewhere, Mayer delivers a soulful rendition of J.J. Cale's "Call Me the Breeze" -- the most straightforward blues cut on the album -- and delves into two synergistic duets, the first with on-and-off girlfriend Katy Perry on "Who You Love" and the second with R&B auteur Frank Ocean on "Wildfire." That Mayer fails to cite country legend Ernest Tubb as the inspiration for "You're No One 'Til Someone Lets You Down," which basically cribs the melody from Tubb's "Walking the Floor Over You," might seem more of an oversight if he hadn't made it so obvious from the start that he was clearly drawing from the deep well of country music's past on Paradise Valley. Ultimately, whether it's Tubb's honky tonk twang, or the twang of Mayer's own heart, the sound of Paradise Valley rings true. ~ Matt Collar

Blues/Country/Folk - Released December 12, 2006 | Aware - Columbia

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Pop/Rock - Released May 18, 2012 | Columbia

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Nothing halts the momentum of a career like a few poorly chosen words to the press. Take John Mayer, who in 2009 still seemed like the quintessential modern lothario, singing sweet songs of love and seducing starlets all across Hollywood. Then at the dawn of 2010, just months after the release of his fourth album, Battle Studies, he gave an interview with Playboy where he managed to insult former and current lovers while callously dropping racial slurs, a snafu plenty difficult to survive, but its gravity was compounded when his former lover Taylor Swift wrote a nasty kiss-off "Dear John" at the end of the year, a move that effectively banished him to the outskirts of L.A. -- which, if the sound of his 2012 comeback is any indication, resides somewhere around the vicinity of Laurel Canyon. Yes, the public humiliation and a subsequent health scare have pushed Mayer back in time, all the way back to the turn of the '70s when singer/songwriters across Southern California strummed their guitars and sang about their souls, back when his idol Eric Clapton was obsessed with the rootsy tumble of Delaney & Bonnie. Mayer never rock & rolls the way EC did when he was in love with D&B, but he certainly is emphasizing his affection for American roots, particularly of the folk and country kind. Those two sounds are the best vehicles for the kind of solipsism Mayer engages in on Born and Raised, where he does his best to sound sorrowful and contrite yet manages to stumble upon his own deep-seated desire to remain a lover-man. He doesn't murmur romantic words; he plaintively says he's sorry over austere acoustic backdrops, taking pains to ensure that Born and Raised feels weathered, rustic, and lived-in. This authenticity is supposed to strengthen his public contrition but it's hard to shake the feeling this is all an act, particularly when he interrupts his burnished apologies to sing "Something Like Olivia," a come-on addressed directly to House star Olivia Wilde. In another setting, this celeb crush would be amusing and possibly charming, but here, it (along with the lingering self-pity) undercuts whatever sincerity Mayer managed to muster elsewhere on Born and Raised. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Blues/Country/Folk - Released January 1, 2008 | Columbia

Recorded at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, California, Where the Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles finds singer/songwriter and guitarist John Mayer performing in three different band settings: acoustic trio, electric trio, and large ensemble. As such, the evening works as a nice representation of Mayer's work beginning with the 2003 album Heavier Things and continuing through his creative reinvention as a modern electric blues artist with 2005's Try! John Mayer Trio Live in Concert and finally his smash Grammy-winning 2006 effort, Continuum. Essentially, the concert is designed to showcase Mayer's ability to move from melodic soft rock and pop to folky solo numbers and rockin' blues. Generally, the conceit works and the concert does shine a light, so to speak, on Mayer's virtuosic musical chops. However, segmenting this concert into such specific aesthetic sounds loses some of the diverse flow a Mayer concert usually has. It should be noted that the concert is also available on DVD and Blu-ray, where you get see each band and appreciate the diversity among the ensembles. That said, for fans of Mayer the songwriter, you really can't lose, as the guy is hard-pressed to come up with a bad song, and tracks like the fan favorite "Daughters" and the bittersweet "Stop This Train" really benefit from the acoustic reading Mayer gives them here. Similarly, by putting "'Who Do You Think I Was," "Vultures," and his inspired take on Jimi Hendrix's "Bold as Love" in the middle electric trio section, Mayer builds the energy of the concert, perfectly setting up the pop/blues cornucopia of the final large ensemble set. Beginning with the hit "'Waiting on the World to Change," Mayer's last set (on disc two) is really the set most fans will gravitate toward, as it finds Mayer and his backing group of stellar sideman diving headlong into such soulful numbers as "Why Georgia" and "I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)," while also making room for such bluesy nuggets as his Stevie Ray Vaughan-inspired reworking of the Ray Charles hit "I Don't Need No Doctor" (a number heard on John Scofield's That's What I Say with Mayer as guest). Admittedly sprawling and ambitious, Where the Light Is is nonetheless a dynamic showcase for Mayer, who never fails to shine. ~ Matt Collar

Blues/Country/Folk - Released October 15, 2001 | Aware - Columbia

After making a small buzz with the Inside Wants Out EP, John Mayer hired veteran producer John Alagía (known for his work with the Dave Matthews Band) to beef up his full-length debut with commercial polish. Released in September 2001, Room for Squares proved to be a well-timed album, quietly heralding the end of teen pop's glory days with clever wordplay, savvy chord progressions, and mature songwriting. Songs like "No Such Thing" and "Neon" mixed jazz chords with digestible choruses, fashioning a sort of brainy, college-educated pop hybrid that appealed to discerning listeners and mainstream fans alike. Of course, it didn't hurt that Mayer also loaded the album with more straightforward numbers -- particularly "Your Body Is a Wonderland," a bubbling piece of bedroom pop that helped expand his female audience. Mayer's soon-to-be famous guitar solos and bluesy, Stevie Ray Vaughan-styled riffs were sorely absent from the mix, though, as he limited the bulk of his fretwork to the acoustic guitar. It would take a jam-friendly concert album -- 2003's Any Given Thursday -- to introduce the full range of Mayer's axeman skills to the public, but Room for Squares still provides a nice introduction to his catalog, highlighting his blend of collegiate pop/rock and sensitive acoustics while only hinting at the genre-hopping chameleon he'd later become. ~ Andrew Leahey

Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Verve

Blues/Country/Folk - Released June 7, 2005 | Aware - Columbia

Blues/Country/Folk - Released November 16, 2009 | Columbia

It's no secret that John Mayer is a 21st Century Fox, wining and dining women all through the tabloid headlines, so it's about time he delivered an album that traded upon his loverman persona -- and Battle Studies is that record in spades. Retaining more than a modicum of the slick soul-blues undertones of Continuum, Mayer fashions a modern groove album, a record that maintains a smooth seductive vibe so thoroughly it spills into a weird one-man band cover of "Crossroads," turning Clapton's contained Cream masterwork into something about vibe, not virtuosity. Mayer remains a disciple of Slowhand, but he shows an unusual interest in the big AOR stylings of Journeyman, along with Stevie Ray Vaughan's In Step, creating a coolly clean blend of synths and Strats, one that's as much about texture as it is song -- something perfectly appropriate for a make-out album like this. Sometimes, Mayer dips too heavily toward the texture -- not just in the sound sculptures in the bedding of "Heartbreak Warfare," but even the strum-n-croon of "All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye" -- and his love-as-war metaphors land with the thud of a dud bomb, but he can't resist a good, tight melody and builds the bulk of Battle Studies upon them: the elegant "Half of My Heart," the stoned self-deprecating wit of "Who Says," the softly soulful "Perfectly Lonely." Here, Mayer is effortlessly seductive and somewhat irresistible, and it's easy to see why the ladies love cool John. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released April 14, 2017 | Columbia

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John Mayer first teased his seventh album, The Search for Everything, through a pair of EPs that contained eight of the record's 12 songs. It was a sly way for the singer/songwriter to ease back into his soulful side, a sound he largely abandoned during an extended dalliance with Laurel Canyon country-rock -- an infatuation that culminated in his position as a substitute Jerry Garcia in the Grateful Dead satellite group Dead & Company. Although it's ostensibly a breakup album, The Search for Everything doesn't feel haunted: Mayer glides through the record so smoothly, the supple sound seems almost insouciant. It is also quite alluring. Mayer may be reverting to the sound of Continuum, alternating between R&B workouts and soul-baring ballads, but forward movement is the unifying sentiment here. The nimble funk opener, "Moving on and Getting Over," makes that plain, as does the plaintive "Changing," which summarizes his plight simply: "I may be old and I may be young/But I am not done changing." Some of Mayer's change can be charted in how he hangs onto his romantic past, burying some of his heartache on the deceptively exuberant opener, "Still Feel Like Your Man," and offering a bittersweet denouement in the admission "You're Gonna Live Forever in Me." Mirroring his emotional maturity is a sharpening of his songcraft. While he's always shown a knack for slow-burning soul, the progression and arrangement of the smoldering "Rosie" feel as sophisticated as the lithe grace of "Emoji of a Wave," while "Roll It on Home," an easy-rolling country-rocker that tips its hat to the Dead, shows how he absorbed the lessons of his Laurel Canyon detour of Born and Raised and Paradise Valley. Those two records, along with such earlier workouts as Try! John Mayer Trio Live in Concert, reveal the extent of Mayer's ambition, but The Search for Everything succeeds because he's not donning a new costume: instead, he's settling into a groove he can claim as his own, and it feels like he's at home. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released February 24, 2017 | Columbia

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As the second installment from John Mayer's seventh album, The Search for Everything: Wave Two deepens the formula established by its predecessor. Like that January 2017 EP, The Search for Everything: Wave Two splits the difference between soulful pop (the slyly exuberant opener "Still Feel Like Your Man," the funk vamp "Helpless") and soul-baring troubadour. Here, there's a hint of the Laurel Canyon country-rock of Born and Raised and Paradise Valley -- "Roll It on Home" is an easy-rolling country-rocker that could've been inspired by his time as Jerry Garcia's replacement in a reconstituted Grateful Dead -- but perhaps the most striking number is "Emoji of a Wave," which splits the difference between confession and feel. Combined with Wave One, this EP constitutes some of Mayer's strongest work. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 20, 2017 | Columbia

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John Mayer unveiled his seventh album, Search for Everything, as a series of EPs, beginning with the aptly named Search for Everything: Wave One in January 2017. Bouncing back to his soulful side after an extended dalliance with Laurel Canyon country-rock -- an infatuation that culminated in his position as a substitute Jerry Garcia in the Grateful Dead satellite group Dead & Company -- Mayer glides through Wave One, alternating between smooth soul and introspective ballads. Forward movement is the unifying factor here -- the nimble funk of the opener, "Moving on and Getting Over," makes that plain, as does its plaintive successor, "Changing" -- and if he's finding some sustenance in a new love ("Love on the Weekend"), there's a bittersweet denouement in the admission "You're Gonna Live Forever in Me." If Mayer is reverting to the sound of Continuum, he's nevertheless showing growth: "Moving on and Getting Over" is deeper in its funk and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, "You're Gonna Live Forever in Me" shows how he can craft a ballad in the vein of Randy Newman, both indications that the full-length Search for Everything may offer more surprises. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Rock - Released November 19, 2016 | Columbia

Pop - Released October 24, 2016 | Aware - Columbia

Pop - Released October 24, 2016 | Aware - Columbia

Pop - Released October 21, 2016 | Aware - Columbia

Recorded in September of 2002 in Birmingham, AL, John Mayer's Any Given Thursday DVD chronicles a day in the life of his tour. Mayer's juxtaposition between being a musician and a personality is blurred most during his live shows. Is he the consummate guitar hero exemplified when he plays a cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Lenny," or is he the teen idol that the pubescent girls shriek for after he plays "Your Body Is a Wonderland"? Regardless of your perception, there is no denying that he possesses the ability to satisfy every audience member. After a smattering of songs from Room for Squares, he dismisses his bandmates and gets back to his early days as a solo performer. This is where Mayer proves that he is more than the sum of radio hits that have elevated him into the larger venues. Launching into an acoustic version of the Police's "Message in a Bottle," he makes this song his own. Any Given Thursday will definitely give you a new respect for Mayer's ability to make his studio recordings come alive in a fresh new way. The bonus features include a look at the soundcheck and an interview with Mayer the day after the show, where he presents a consciousness about his music that is gnostic beyond his years. The most intriguing bonus feature on the DVD is the commentary by Mayer. It's not often that you get a play-by-play of a performer's thought process while he is on-stage. He lends his perspective on everything from the quirky faces he makes while singing to the reasons for his set list. This commentary alone is worth the price of the DVD. ~ Erik Crawford