BY: STEPHEN PATE
If you've followed John Mayer over the years, you know his musical proclivities are as vast and varied as his romantic escapades. The limelight hasn't always been good for Mayer, who stirred quite a controversy in recent years from his unfiltered comments in interviews to his countless celebrity paramours. But something has changed in him as of late, or at least appears too. He has a new sound and a new look. The release of his latest album, “Paradise Valley”, has set a new precedent for his future in the industry. It is his sixth studio release, and is by far his most diverse project to date. “Paradise Valley” is melodically pleasing and evocative of a different era of music. Part country, part blues rock, the album is miles away from the Mayer radio favorites of the early two thousands, and, yet, the musicianship and songwriting abilities are still there with tracks just as catchy.
The second track on the album, "Paper Doll," is the one song reminiscent of the pop rock sounds he produced over ten years ago. Allegedly, the song is a response to Taylor Swift's post-John Mayer 'breakup song' “Dear John." Mayer returns the favor in Paper Doll singing, "You're like 22 girls in one, never know what you're running from."
If that's not enough, Mayer connects with another flame on the album as well, having Katy Perry sing guest vocals on the track "Who You Love." The song is honest, with a solid performance by Perry.
Fans will find something a little different in this album, from Mayer's explosive southern rock ballad "Wildfire" to his introspective acoustic driven "Waiting on the Day," and his energetic finale "On the Way home." Paradise Valley presents us with a new side of Mayer.
Perhaps the greatest surprise with the newest album is Mayer's maturation musically and personally.
Mayer's previous album, “Born and Raised”, was said by Mayer to be his most honest album to date. “Paradise Valley” follows in suit somewhat. While “Born and Raised” was introspective of his life-asking questions about love, spirituality and the future- “Paradise Valley” is less about who Mayer was, and more concerned with who he is now. He seems set on reinventing himself.
In fact, common talk for Mayer in interviews and even while out on tour again, is his own growing understanding of who he used to be, and the person he is today. Regardless of how you feel about Mayer’s personal life, his music is speaking loudly for him now. He also appears content to share this journey with fans.
“Paradise Valley” is not vintage John Mayer. If you enjoy artists being experiential, you will enjoy this album. If you're looking for radio-playable, pop melodies, you will be bored here. The album will probably pass by the music world's radar with little radio playtime and little recognition. It seems at this point in Mayer's career, he's okay with it though.