November 27, 2007

The Evolution of ... John Mayer

I first came across John Mayer when everyone else did, during my senior year of high school with his release Room for Squares and the song No Such Thing, which I still really enjoy. Mayer's an artist for me that is a bit of a mixed bag. I enjoy most of his music, although his earlier stuff really falls into the pop-rock spectrum than I'd like. On the other hand, he shows an incredible amount of talent that really hasn't been used to the full extent.

Mayer first broke into the music scene with a due called LoFi Masters, before splitting up and going solo. He released an EP called Inside Wants Out, which featured No Such Thing, which would later come off of the album Room for Squares, which was released in 2002. The album quickly caught on and was a big success, winning Mayer a Grammy for Your Body is a Wonderland. A year later, he released a live CD, called Any Given Thursday, which featured some music from his next album, Heavier Things, which was released in 2003. While it didn't perform as well, the single Daughters won Mayer a second Grammy Award. Mayer then went on to work with the John Mayer Trio, playing with bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Steve Jordan, releasing an album called TRY!, a live album in 2005. The group has since been on break. In 2006, Mayer followed up with Continuum, which held a change in direction for the singer, and has since performed well in the charts. Once again the album also earned Mayer a couple of Grammy Awards, one for best song and best album. Last year, he announced that he was working on a new album.

While Room for Squares placed Mayer on the map and was a huge success, he has made efforts to start utilizing his talents with the guitar, most noticably in Continuum. Room for Squares was a fantastic pop/rock album with all the right ingredients for success, songs for everyone, fairly good musical work and a good, solid sound.

83 - John Mayer

Heavier Things was much of the same pop/rock sound that is seen in Room for Squares, although a little moodier. While it's not a direct copy of the album, there is many of the same elements present, and like the first, it was a fairly successful album because of that. The guitar work hasn't really changed that much between the two, and the themes present are about the same.

Split Screen Sadness - John Mayer

The first real hints of change came with TRY!, with the John Mayer Trio. This was a huge musical jump in style here, towards the BB King Blues and Jimi Hendrix type guitar work that really showed that Mayer could be something more than just a pop musician - there was real talent here. He revisits some of the roots here with covers of Hendrix and Ray Charles on this album.

Wait Until Tomorrow (Jimi Hendrix) - John Mayer Trio

Continuum, his latest work, shows that the transition isn't a temporary thing, a stunt. While the album is a little preachy, it certainly mixes more blues and rock than before than in the pop stuff. The guitar work has taken a step up, as has some of the song writing here. Rolling Stone has named Mayer one of the modern guitar gods, and while I'm not sure that's the case, he's certainly showing that he's working towards something greater. His next album is supposed to have even more of a jump in style.

Stop This Train - John Mayer

Mayer's latest single doesn't come from any album, but Say is certainly up there with the style of Continuum - intricret guitar work and some decent vocals. It's a good listen. If it's an indication of things to come, it's a good one.

Say - John Mayer

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