It won’t come as a surprise to many of you that I’m kind of into John Mayer. (Okay, kind of a lot.)
I’d probably write momentarily about anything he released, but there’s something really special about Wave One. His first “wave” of EP releases in a series that will eventually comprise his full album, The Search for Everything. It’s not simply special because it’s the first, or because it’s new, it’s special because of the perfect mix of what once was and what’s to come.
Wave One feels like an ode to songs like Wheel, Gravity, and Stop This Train while capturing the essence of who Mayer has grown into as an artist over the span of his career. Artistic growth and experimentation have run rampant on so many of his projects, particularly his last two releases Paradise Valley and Born an Raised. They were a bit of a departure from Mayer’s norm, a little more Americana, a bit rootsy, still the same songwriter questioning facts of life with an undeniably visual flourish of thoughts. But different. Paradise felt like a continuation of it’s predecessor rather than a whole new album. Some loved it, some hated it, I stood somewhere in between loving bits and pieces and not caring for others.
But for me, those albums lacked the moments on previous albums like Continuum and Battle Studies, hell even Room For Squares — that are so quintessential to who he is. Simplistic singer/songwriter moments of expertly crafted instrumentation, infused with understated Blues vibes, wrapped up in a journey defining story.
Welcome to Wave One. And album that is John Mayer. Those blues undertones, funky grooves, and his effortless easy listening but somehow mind blowing guitar playing. One listen to Moving On and Getting Over and you find yourself actually moving. The tap of your toe, the bop of your head, your body finds the groove even before it lands on the melody. And, like all things Mayer, the story itself is relevant now just like it will be in 15, 30, or 45 years. We’re all moving on, from something or someone at different points throughout our lives.
Changing takes me back to moments like Battles Studies Dreaming With A Broken Heart, while possessing hints and sparks of that Americana vibe subtly interspersed throughout. It’s simple, but you can float on the chords like they’re pure air beneath wings. And the guitar solo. THE GUITAR SOLO.
Enter Love On The Weekend. My first listen turned quickly into a second, third and fifteenth. Here’s the thing, I was excited to grab at anything new from this man, but my god it was like coming up for air after being underwater for too long. Going back to how visual Mayer is as an artist, he doesn’t even have to describe the smell of evergreen trees or crunch of dead leaves beneath his feet as he walks a dirt path to a weekend cabin. You see it. You exist in this world of escape and romance, and you believe that it’s a real situation. This song is he reason I fell in love with him as an artist. It’s the same reason St Patrick’s Day evokes distant memories of walking trough Boston Commons on a chilly fall day or laying by the river while Harvard rowers zoom past me as the sun warms my skin.
It transports you.
The same way You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me rings true. He taps into the foundation of who we are at our cores, the humanity, the emotional needs and thoughts that some of us never want to say aloud. He puts them into words the way a painter brushes a canvas and uses colors to bring his vision to life.
This is the return of a John Mayer I’ve know and love for many years. And if you ask me, everyone should be paying attention.