I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, so I wouldn’t say John Mayer is one for me. But he hasn’t always made it easy to be a fan of his. Many have completely written him off, and I can’t say I blame them. But if you’ve ever thought about giving him a second chance, now is a great time. His new album, The Search for Everything, is what I personally believe to be his best and as he’s nearing 40, Mayer is finally growing into that mature artist that I can be proud to say I’m a fan of.
Of course anytime anyone brings up John Mayer, his infamous 2010 Playboy interview is the ugly elephant in the room and we can’t just sweep those horrible comments under the rug. But while I absolutely believe in holding people accountable to their words and actions, I do feel enough time has passed and Mayer has shown that he’s grown out of that mindset of abusing the media for attention. He realizes now that what he said was bad, and he apologized back in 2010 for his use of the n-word, saying, “It was arrogant of me to think I could intellectualize using it, because I realize that there's no intellectualizing a word that is so emotionally charged,”*. And absolutely that could just be damage control and not actually learning what he did wrong, but in an interview he did with MSNBC in 2015*, he admits to being a “recovered ego addict”. He pulled himself off of Twitter for a time because he “abused the right to express himself”. It seems to me that he had, what I call, The Bieber Effect. Both Mayer and Bieber were given so much adoration, fame and money at such a young age that it effects their ability to determine what is okay and what’s not. Granted, Mayer was 21 when his first album came out, but that doesn’t mean he was a completely 100% emotionally mature individual when he became the guitar playing heartthrob that he was in his early career. I think he just didn’t know how to handle all of that attention properly, and unfortunately, he found out just how much he couldn’t handle it in a very public manner. I would recommend watching the interview and hearing him explain himself, but personally I think he sounded sincere. He seemed to have genuinely learned from his mistakes and still pokes fun of himself, which he did when he hosted the Late Late Show for three nights in 2015 and that to me doesn’t seem like something an ego maniac or narcissist would be able to do. Luckily, he did realize that he needed to step back from the media and he moved to Montana to figure out who he wanted to be as an artist, not just a walking soundbyte. Out of that relocation came Born and Raised and Paradise Valley, two very different albums from the John Mayer sound that I think many had become used to, but those albums would be important stepping stones on the road to the John Mayer sound we have now, the sound that is The Search for Everything.
Admittedly about his relationship and breakup with Katy Perry, Mayer’s newest album is all about heartbreak and we see a more vulnerable side of him than in those past two albums. Many reviews have christened this album a return to form, similar to Continuum or Room for Squares, but I thought it was a completely fresh sound for him and one that I like very much. Songs like, “Still Feel Like Your Man”, “Helpless”, “Moving On and Getting Over”, and “Rosie” all have a 70s electric vibe that I really enjoyed. “Never on the Day You Leave” is a great example of lyrical vulnerability that is expected from a singer-songwriter, but excellent nonetheless. But not all of the songs are about heartache, tracks like “In the Blood” and “Changing” show a more personal vulnerability, in which he writes about growing older and his ongoing personal growth as he continues to overcome and regain the public’s good graces after his public blunders of 7 years ago. “Love on the Weekend” is a major standout for me, just because it’s a sweet love song that harkens images of road trips and lazy Sundays. “Emoji of a Wave” is another one that stands out, the music is calming and peaceful and the lyrics remind us that any hardship is just a wave and we can get through it. Out of the 13 songs, I really enjoyed 9 of them. “Roll It on Home” sounds like a deleted track from Paradise Valley, but is growing on me and could be one that makes this album a 10/13. Nothing in particular strikes me about “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me” or “Theme from The Search For Everything”, although others (including Mayer) are very fond of the former.
Overall, the album has a really good sound. It’s been out for a little over a week and I’ve listened to it everyday. I’ve heard that he has more songs that were supposed to be on this album that was to come out in waves, but the label pressured him to release these 13 tracks now so hopefully there is more to come in the next year. If there is another of this home run album coming, then I am certainly very excited.
Links mentioned for reference:
* Mayer’s 2010 apology: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/john-mayer-apologizes-for-using-n-word-in-raw-interview-20100211
* ”Recovered Ego Addict” Interview with MSNBC: