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Pop - Released July 8, 2016 | Aware - Columbia

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Pop - Released July 16, 2021 | Columbia

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John Mayer sang on his 2001 debut Room for Squares, released when he was 22, about his "quarter-life crisis." Now he's 43 and his latest, Sob Rock, is right on time for the mid-life one. There's a whole lot of taking stock on songs like the what-if ballad "Shouldn't Matter But It Does," which finds him thinking of a former love: "It could've been always, it could've been me/ We could've been busy naming baby number three." The incredibly catchy "New Light" (produced by Kanye West collaborator No ID, it's all upbeat yacht rock and blue-eyed soul), actually feels like a throwback to the lonely-boy longings of Mayer’s debut, only now he's "pushing 40 in the friend zone." Meanwhile, "I Guess I Just Feel Like" is pure existentialism: "I guess I just feel like nobody's honest, nobody's true ... I guess I just feel like I'm the same way too," he sings along with slow-burn blues guitar. Mayer has said that pandemic stress pushed him to reach for the "security-blanket" '80s soft rock of his childhood, and the record is at once FM-radio familiar but not a punchline. Credit producer Don Was, who knows from delicious processed cheese, having steered Glenn Frey, Michael McDonald and Paul Young, among others. On the terrific "Last Train Home," Mayer enlists a seen-it-all veteran in the form of Toto percussionist Lenny Castro, but also brings in contemporary country-pop heroine Maren Morris to stand up to the sizzle tone of his PRS Silver Sky guitar. "Til the Right One Comes" bounces like a Christine McVie cut, and the delightful "Wild Blue" never lets you forget that he's a touring guitarist with the Grateful Dead. Mayer's warm rasp—always walking the line of sultry and sad—shines on "Shot in the Dark" and the gently pulsing "Carry Me Away." His offbeat sense of humor, which was entertainingly on display during his lockdown Instagram TV series, doesn't usually make its way into songs. But one of the catchiest on Sob Rock is also one of the most confounding: The music is smooth as silk, the delivery sounds sincere, yet there's Mayer singing Yoda-like lyrics for "Why You No Love Me": "Why you no even care?..." © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz
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Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | Columbia

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Pop/Rock - Released August 16, 2013 | Columbia

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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 /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released May 18, 2012 | Columbia

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Rock - Released September 9, 2003 | Aware - Columbia

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Don't take the title of John Mayer's Heavier Things literally. Mayer offers nothing heavy on the follow-up to his breakthrough hit, Room for Squares -- nothing heavy in the music and nothing heavy in the lyrics. No, Mayer is smooth, slick, and streamlined on his second or third album (it all depends if you count his 1999 debut, Inside Wants Out, half of which was re-recorded for Room for Squares, which itself was released in two different incarnations), playing things straight and following the blueprint his big radio hit, "Your Body Is a Wonderland," provided. The title Heavier Things does reflect his new directness, lacking the lithe playfulness that resulted in a Hank Mobley joke, of all things, for an album title last time out. That extends to the rest of the album -- the humor and interesting wordplay have been toned down, leaving very little ambiguity. Actually, there's little left unexplained on the record, with every song on the album spread across several grids explaining where they were written and how many beats per minute they are, breaking them down into keywords, charting what "suggested target points" on the body the song should hit (tellingly, not one track is targeted at the crotch), and even grouping the songs together by key. The latter is a bit of a mistake, since it shows that for all those jazzy major and minor seventh chords gliding by in his songs, he's keeping his songwriting pretty simple, sticking to D, E, F, G, and A, with a G minor thrown in for good measure. This, of course, is not really a problem for listeners, since most listeners don't care how a song is written as long as it sounds good, but this does confirm that he's kept things simple, concentrating on how the record sounds and feels. And, as a piece of mood music, this is really quite effective, delivering on how "Your Body Is a Wonderland" sounds, with some really nice lush, laid-back textures and songs that are melodic without being truly catchy. It's music that floats through the speakers nicely and never leaves much of a lasting impression; it's how a jazzier, laid-back, less adventurous, and MOR-oriented Dave Matthews would sound. Mayer is now more of a record-maker than songwriter, which will undoubtedly dishearten those who liked the song-oriented Inside Wants Out, but those who just enjoyed the sound and feel of Room for Squares should feel right at home. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 13, 2009 | Columbia

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Rock - Released December 12, 2006 | Aware - Columbia

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Pop - Released August 16, 2001 | Aware - Columbia

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Pop - Released February 22, 2019 | Columbia

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Pop - Released June 4, 2021 | Columbia

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Pop - Released September 11, 2006 | Aware - Columbia

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Anybody who was initially confused by singer/songwriter John Mayer's foray into blues with 2005's Try! John Mayer Trio Live in Concert could only have been further confounded upon listening to the album and coming to the realization that it was actually good. And not just kinda good, especially for guy who had been largely labeled as a Dave Matthews clone, but really, truthfully, organically good as a blues album in its own right. However, for longtime fans who had been keeping tabs on Mayer, the turn might not have been so unexpected. Soon after the release of his 2003 sophomore album, the laid-back, assuredly melodic Heavier Things, Mayer began appearing on albums by such iconic blues and jazz artists as Buddy Guy, B.B. King, and Herbie Hancock. And not just singing, but playing guitar next to musicians legendary on the instrument. In short, he was seeking out these artists in an attempt to delve into the roots of the blues, a music he obviously has a deep affection for. Rather than his blues trio being a one-off side project completely disconnected to his past work, it is clear now that it was the next step in his musical development. And truthfully, while Try! certainly showcases Mayer's deft improvisational blues chops, it's more of a blues/soul album in the tradition of such electric blues legends as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and features songs by Mayer that perfectly marry his melodic songcraft and his blues-slinger inclinations. In fact, what seemed at the time a nod to his largely female fan base (the inclusion of "Daughters" and "Something's Missing" off Heavier Things) was actually a hint that he was bridging his sound for his listeners, showing them where he was going. That said, nothing he did up until the excellent, expansive Try! could have prepared you for the monumental creative leap forward that is Mayer's 2006 studio effort, Continuum. Working with his blues trio/rhythm section of bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Steve Jordan, along with guest spots by trumpeter Roy Hargrove and guitarist Ben Harper, Mayer brings all of his recent musical explorations and increasing talents as a singer/songwriter to bear on Continuum. Produced solely by Mayer and Jordan, the album is a devastatingly accomplished, fully realized effort that in every way exceeds expectations and positions Mayer as one of the most relevant artists of his generation. Adding weight to the notion that Mayer's blues trio is more than just a creative indulgence, he has carried over two tracks from the live album in "Vultures" and the deeply metaphorical soul ballad "Gravity." These are gut-wrenchingly poignant songs that give voice to a generation of kids raised on TRL teen stars and CNN soundbites who've found themselves all grown up and fighting a war of "beliefs." Grappling with a handful of topics -- social and political, romantic and sexual, pointedly personal and yet always universal in scope -- Mayer's Continuum here earns a legitimate comparison to Marvin Gaye's What's Going On. Nobody -- not a single one of Mayer's contemporaries -- has come up with anything resembling a worthwhile antiwar anthem that is as good and speaks for their generation as much as his "Waiting on the World to Change" -- and he goes and hangs the whole album on it as the first single. It's a bold statement of purpose that is carried throughout the album, not just in sentiment, but also tone. Continuum is a gorgeously produced, brilliantly stripped-to-basics album that incorporates blues, soft funk, R&B, folk, and pop in a sound that is totally owned by Mayer. It's no stretch when trying to describe the sound of Continuum to color it in the light of work by such legends as Sting, Eric Clapton, Sade, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Steve Winwood. In fact, the sustained adult contemporary tone of the album could easily have become turgid, boring, or dated but never does, and brings to mind such classic late-'80s albums as Sting's Nothing Like the Sun, Clapton's Journeyman, and Vaughan's In Step. At every turn, Continuum finds Mayer to be a mature, thoughtful, and gifted musician who fully grasps his place not just in the record industry, but in life. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 30, 2003 | Aware - Columbia

John Mayer found stardom the old-fashioned way. After building a live following in his adopted hometown of Atlanta, he took his solo acoustic act to Austin's annual South by Southwest festival, where he was signed by the Columbia subsidiary Aware, a label responsible for such college festival fare as Hootie & the Blowfish, Train, and Vertical Horizon. His second album, Room for Squares, eventually became a monster hit behind the single "No Such Thing," and Mayer expanded his live following nationwide, scoring especially big numbers with college coeds eager to trade in their Dave Matthews crushes for a younger, more charismatic model. Room for Squares was released in summer of 2001, and Mayer toured in support of it for more than a year after. The live Any Given Thursday, then, filled the gap until Mayer's proper follow-up could be recorded; it also capitalized on his tumbleweed of stardom, which was still rolling through 2003 due to a Grammy win and strong word of mouth between campuses about his live show. Any Given Thursday was recorded at Oak Mountain Amphitheater in Birmingham, AL, on September 12, 2002. In addition to Mayer's guitar and vocals, it features bassist David LaBruyere, drummer Stephen Chopek, and guitarist/keyboardist Michael Chaves. No matter how great it was when it happened, a live document always has the potential for disaster when released for public consumption. Thursday succeeds, but it does so because Mayer's music is an unthreatening mixture of college rock and wide-eyed adolescent lyricism. Like Matthews, Mayer makes music that is creatively bland. It appeals to everyone, goes great with beer, and can be played with relative ease by any college town cover band. He's handsome, and his lyrics say everything that real boyfriends never will. Live, each vocal trill and guitar flourish is greeted with Beatlesque screaming from his largely female following. Singalong moments during "Love Song for No One," "Why Georgia," and the sticky bubblegum love pop of "Your Body Is a Wonderland" prove this; during each, the "B-ham choir" (as Mayer characterizes the crowd) sounds like a thousand pretty birds harmonizing on his words. Musically, Any Given Thursday is somewhat vacant; Mayer's band lays the AAA-alternative groove on too thick at times, and his own vocal and instrumental similarity to Matthews is so striking as to be off-putting. Any Given Thursday is also broken up into two discs to emulate Mayer's set break. This is tiresome, as with a few minor edits (the free-jammy "Covered in Rain") the music would have fit comfortably onto one disc. Given the relatively similar sticker price, the accompanying DVD of the concert -- which includes backstage interviews and the like -- might be the better buy. In either format, Any Given Thursday is really for the rabid fan, since the release acts as a document of the summer that saw Mayer go from nobody to somebody in the eyes and ears of a million college kids. © Johnny Loftus /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 24, 1999 | Aware - Columbia

After John Mayer hooked up with producer John Alagia (who had previously worked with Dave Matthews) to record Room for Squares, a lot of people thought of him as a second Matthews. But taking a listen to Mayer's first relase, Inside Wants Out, half of which turned up in re-recorded form on Room for Squares, is liable to remind the listener more of an earlier antecedent, 1970s folk-jazz performer Michael Franks of "Popsicle Toes" fame. Like Franks, Mayer has a wheezy, phlegmatic tenor -- and though the arrangements focus on his acoustic guitar, even when a few other instruments are brought in, he doesn't restrict himself to folk chords, instead throwing in some jazzy elements. His material is better when he cuts through the affectations, however. The best songs, neither of which were repeated on Room for Squares, are "Love Soon" and "Comfortable." In the latter, he sings to a former flame about his current girlfriend, illuminating how different one love interest can be from another. "Life of the party, and she swears that she's arty," he notes of the new girl, "but you could distinguish Miles from Coltrane," which is clearly more of an attribute for him. The attention paid to detail in his lyrics (as well as an ear for a well-turned phrase, such as his observation that the new girl "poses for pictures that aren't being taken") marks Mayer as an original songwriter, if sometimes a precious one. [For the 2002 reissue that appeared Columbia Records, Vlado Miller re-sequenced this EP, placing the four songs that also appeared on Room for Squares up front. But new fans should listen to the rest of the disc as well, since they may hear Mayer in a more direct and honest way.] © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 6, 2019 | Columbia

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Pop/Rock - Released August 6, 2012 | Columbia

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Rock - Released January 20, 2017 | Columbia

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Pop - Released May 27, 2014 | Columbia

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Rock - Released February 24, 2017 | Columbia

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