Over the last twelve years the world has seen John Mayer go from relatively unknown singer/song writer, to one of the biggest artists of our time. How has he done this? Well I have to think it has to do with his musicianship that was honed at one of the finest music institutions in America, Berklee College of Music. These ‘chops’ have lead Mr. Mayer to share the stage with many prominent musicians including; B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck. It has also led him to various other projects including, The John Mayer Trio which was a blues trio featuring bassist Pino Paladino and drummer Steve Jordan.
Now in 2012 John Mayer is back with the new album, Born and Raised. Born and Raised is a collection of 12 tracks including the single, “Shadow Days”. The album begins with the late 60’s/early 70’s vibe tune “Queen of California”. The track starts out with a finger picked section and a bass drum, which steadily builds till the verse interjects with Mayer’s vocals. On this track we also hear some beautiful slide work reminiscent of Duane Allman. I was quite impressed with the production on this track as all the pieces fit, and because it was mixed cleanly. Next up is a track called, “The Age of Worry” which is another track that starts off with a great deal of acoustic guitar, but it’s Mayer’s vocal performance that really drives the two and a half minute song. Next up is the single “Shadow Days” which is a great retrospect of one’s life, and knowing that things do get better. I have to say that I am very impressed with this track especially the arrangement which highlights what is either, a pedal steel guitar, or a Lap Steele. I also enjoy the track because of its multi-tracked acoustic guitar solo.
“Speak for Me” is the next track, to me it feels like something Mayer wasn’t sure of, due to what seems to be lyrics about not knowing what he wants to say. “Something Olivia” is another one of my favorite tracks off, Shadow Days due to the song and Mayer’s bluesy roots, especially when it comes to the guitar parts and the layered organ parts throughout. The sixth track on the album is actually the album’s title track, “Born and Raised”. This song is a good preview into the introspective mind set of Mayer and shows his great prowess. The track also features backup vocals from both David Crosby and Graham Nash.
Next up is the longest track on the album, “If I Ever Get Around to Living” which runs about five and a half minutes. This track features soft acoustic guitars, but also features a prominent bass part and strong yet slow beat. We also see Mayer’s blues phrasing throughout his short guitar passages that interject throughout the song. “Love is a Verb” follows and is a great tune that clicks into that classic soul feel without going to overboard. “Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967” is the oddest track on the album due to the lyrical theme. In my opinion it would have a shot at being one of my favorite tracks if the lyrical content wasn’t so odd. The next track “Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey” puts the album back on track with its harmonica driven intro and soft guitars. The album concludes nicely with the “Born and Raised (Reprise)” which is a pure slice of Americana.
Overall I think Mayer’s softer side comes through tremendously on the record. I think it’s also a great collection of songs that add a new flavor to his catalogue.
Check out the Music Video for “Shadow Days” below: