Tuesday, July 31, 2012

#10: John Mayer - Born and Raised (2012)

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of country music but this album taught me something. I may not be as big into the blues, jazz, and country as others, but I'm very big into music that's heavily influenced by those genres. While this album is full of country sounds, it brings it all together with pop appeal and that's particularly why I enjoyed this album as much as I did.

Something Like Olivia
No question, the best song on the album and one of Mayer's all-time bests. In many ways it's just a standard blues song, however the vocal tone and harmonies really bring out the beauty of Mayer's lyrics. It's such a simple love song - and I'm a sucker for each and every one of them. I remember when I bought the album, I think I played this song about ten times before advancing to the next track. It also contains an extremely tasteful organ part throughout the song that I need to start using as a blueprint for comping.

Born and Raised
The title track of the album is chosen for multiple reasons. Not only is the music very solid with a beautiful overlay of a harmonica, but Mayer does here what hardly any musician ever does to me. He cuts right through me with his melody and lyrics. Anyone who doesn't listen to Mayer because they don't like him as a person is missing out due to moments like this: "I still have dreams, they're not the same - they don't fly as high as they used to..." He's one of the most talented musicians of our generation, apparently the man can write some of the best lyrics as well.

Love is A Verb
I love simple love songs and this is pretty much the definition. It's such a simple idea that you start to wonder why no one has thought of it before this moment. Whenever I do have children of my own they will never know songs like "Row Your Boat". They will be sung to sleep with beautiful songs such as this.

All in all, it's the first country influenced album I've ever really enjoyed. Granted, the songs I picked are not the most country tracks on the album. However, these are the tracks that stuck out to me the most. Other standouts are 'Queen of California' and 'Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey'. Mayer's lyrics on this album are among his best. Sometimes when musicians go out of the comfort zone you applaud them for it because they're growing as an artist, but when that's not the first thing you think about then they've truly done it right. At it's core it's another John Mayer album.

Tomorrow's album: Duke Ellington's Ellington at Newport (1956)

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