John Mayer – Paradise Valley
Folk rock bad-boy John Mayer releases his sixth studio album, Paradise Valley, today and it feels personal, safe and familiar. It comes ahead of his tour, featuring dates at the O2 and Wembley Arenas, in October.
Involvement from Mayer’s current girlfriend Katy Perry and singer Frank Ocean (who is everywhere at the moment) make Who You Love and the shorter Wildfire, respectively, the obvious standout tracks. They leave the listener wanting more of this kind of duet.
The album’s fourth track, Paper Doll is rumoured to be a response to former girlfriend Taylor Swift’s musical dig, Dear John. Though the title of Mayer’s rejoinder is a little more cryptic, with lyrics like “You’re like 22 girls in one,” there is little doubt about the intention. Either way, it seems petty to strike back at his young ex-girlfriend and brings down the tone of the record.
The album production, if anything, sounds too clean. There is no real depth to the sound quality – it would be improved if it was a little rougher round the edges. Mayer attempts to create the illusion of an impromptu recording in Call Me the Breeze, saying, “Cool. Cool, right?” in the fade out, but it feels too staged.
Overall, it is a mellow country album with lots of inoffensive, effortless, Sunday afternoon-type tunes, with one glimmer of diversity in the track featuring Frank Ocean. While Mayer’s voice is soulful, the music is beautiful, and the successful transfer of a traditional country music sound to a modern day pop record is commendable, perhaps the singer should bring more of his controversial life into his music. As it stands, at only 35 years old, Mayer sounds like a country music veteran.
Paradise Valley is released on 19th August 2013.
Watch the lyric video for Wildfire here: