After a two-year hiatus and a vocal chord surgery, John Mayer has returned to the industry with a bang. Mayer’s highly anticipated new album, “Born and Raised,” was released Tuesday, May 22. The album’s 13 tracks seem to show a more innocent and raw form of Mayer’s already soothing, bluesy music.
Mayer, after his controversial interviews with Rolling Stone and Playboy in 2010, during which he made sexist and racist comments, seemed to admit his remorse with “Born and Raised.” This comes through in tracks like “The Age of Worry” and “Shadow Days.” The album’s single “Shadow Days” continually resounds in the chorus, “I’m a good man, with a good heart / Had a tough time, had a rough start / But I finally learned to let it go.” His lyrics in this album are vulnerable and honest, much different than his days of “Your Body Is A Wonderland.”
In this respect, Mayer was incredibly successful in redefining and representing himself as a new, more respectable musician. From the start with “Queen of California,” the new album captures its audience and shows a side of John Mayer that needed to be heard.
Of course, the album still maintains Mayer’s classic sound. With intricate guitar riffs and simple vocal melodies, “Born and Raised” has that calm, bluesy tone that fans have come to love. However, some of the tracks sound too much alike. “Shadow Days” and “A Face To Call Home” seem to be in the same key and bear a striking resemblance in their introductions. Instead of adding to the album’s cohesiveness, they sound repetitive and slightly amateur.
Unfortunately, the album’s captivating beginning doesn’t last through the end. The album’s biggest downfall is the eighth track, “Love Is A Verb,” which sounds like an educational sing-along for elementary students. Mayer sings, “love is a verb/it ain’t a thing,” in the first lines of each verse. Not only is it a cheesy way to introduce a complex topic, it’s uninteresting and brings the validity of the entire album to a screeching halt. Mayer should have completely focused on his newfound maturity from his two years away from the music industry and media, but instead brought in a strikingly literal tune that ruined its continuity.
Fans of Mayer’s past albums may beg to ask if John Mayer’s days of romanticism are in the past. While the album presents a new type of romanticism based on freedom and maturity, there are a few tracks about women. The first of which is a track entitled “Something Like Olivia.” However, it mostly speaks of the hope of finding a woman similar to Olivia, not as before when Mayer may have overly sexualized her.
Despite the few failures on the album (“Love Is a Verb” and “Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967,” a slow and cliché narrative song), the album beautifully represents the nostalgia and easy-listening folk for which John Mayer is known. “Born and Raised” is a perfect way for fans to say, “John Mayer, welcome back.”