John Mayer will sadly not be paying me for this
Currently my very favorite CD is Continuum by John Mayer. This is his third album, and while I liked the first two, this one is just another category. By this I mean, TO ME it is, I'm not sure I should be attempting to make general comments about the quality of his music, I don't feel competent. But anyway, when I first started listening to it, I had more or less the same reaction I have when I hear any of his songs for the first time... something like: "Ok. Some guitar, some singing. A song. Ok. Nice. What's the next one like?" His voice is breathy and doesn't really overwhelm you one way or another, so for me it really takes a lot of listening to "get" to the song. I wasn't very impressed at first, but then as it so often happens with good music... somehow it finds its way back into your car, your nano, over and over until you find yourself ready to go out the door and your last thought is: Did I bring the John Mayer CD?
For me this album has that magic balance of good melodies and intriguing lyrics that channel a type of honesty that's rare to find in music today. First of all, forget the first song, the one that's all over the radio (Waiting on the world to change). It's not a bad song, but the rest of the album is so much better, I could almost do without that one. There is one more political-ly track (Belief), but the best part of the disc are the songs about growing up (and older) and about breaking up and moving on. It's obvious the album was written around the time a relationship ended for him and even though I'm very much not in that situation right now, it was easy to relate and revisit those feelings of sadness from my a safe and happy distance. There seems to be a continuum (ha!) between a few songs, going from the break-up (Slow dancing in a burning room) to waking up the day after (Dreaming with a broken heart), to getting over it (In repair) to finally pushing oneself on unsteady feet to be open to new love (I'm gonna find another you). If it wasn't as excruciatingly boring as retelling a movie in exact detail I would now pull all the lyrics that I think are genius and tell you why I am right, but I will spare you. Let me just say that listening to these songs you will be heartbroken with him all over again but it will be so sweet...! (Now of course if I was truly going through a heartbreak I might not find it so sweet, so be warned.) Dreaming with a broken heart starts with this piano line that is so chilling you just want to "roll out of bed and fall on your knees", yet once the song is over you go and hit "repeat".
I don't know how a good songwriter manages to find that exact line that separates whining and self-absorption from honest self-expression, which then instead of making you sick of listening to the singer's problems gives you a fresh perspective on your own. Is it in the lyrics or the delivery? I don't know. My favorite song on the album is "Heart of life". It's kind of an obvious choice I guess, it has the appeal of his earlier hit "Daughters", but I can't help myself. It's uplifting and hopeful and "defends the silver lining" and I am grateful for an artist that dares to be positive in such a simple and honest way. I'm also grateful for a song that's putting things in perspective when I'm exhausted, riding in a car with two screaming toddlers and wondering how exactly I got here and what is the best way out.
But all lyrics aside... I am impressed with just how direct and honest Mayer sounds. Listening to the album with headphones, it really feels like he is talking to you, or he is singing on your living room couch. It's close. The whole album has such a warm quality to it... it's like wearing your boyfriends sweater. It's familiar, understanding, a little complicated, a little terrifying, always reassuring.Posted at 04:59 PM on May 07, 2007