AMERICAN singer- songwriter John Mayer is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable talents of his generation. True; had he been artistically active in the 1970’s, that last golden age of the singer- songwriter, which produced timeless, classic albums from Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Brown, James Taylor, Harry Nilsson and Eric Clapton, to name but a few, he would have been out of his depth and regarded as a B- class talent. As he stands in the modern era, however- a musical landscape that from Lady GaGa to LCD Soundsystem is obsessed beyond belief with bottom- line songwriting (songwriting largely reliant on beat rather than melody)- Mayer is a folk and blues songwriter who makes records that reach #1 on the Billboard charts in America.
Regrettably, Mayer is best known to audiences on this side of the Atlantic as a celebrity heart- breaker who has enjoyed a string of romances A- list starlets, from Jennifer Aniston to Jessica Simpson, from Taylor Swift to his current squeeze, Katy Perry.
Mayer’s forthcoming album, Paradise Valley, due for release in August 2013, is a welcome companion to last year’s Don Was- produced Born and Raised, a rootsy, folk n’ blues affair that stripped away the glossy, empty, pro- tools laiden Battle Studies in favour of an honest and mature record that showcased Mayer’s talents as a songwriter of note.
‘Dear Marie’, a cut from ‘Paradise Valley’, which, like ‘Something Like Olivia’ from ‘Born and Raised’ is written in 12- bar blues, is a fine example of how Mayer freshens up a traditional blues form with lyrics that touch on social dynamics (“From time to time, I go looking for your photograph online / From time to time, I go looking for your photograph online / Some county judge in Ohio is all I ever find”) with no short amount of wit, much as Paul Simon did on his previous effort, 2011’s excellent ‘So Beautiful Or So What’. Mayer finishes with a stark confession (“Yeah I’ve got my dream but you’ve got family / Yeah I’ve got my dream but I guess it got away from me”), which ending the song memorably. The result is a tune pitched somewhere between both the Bob Dylan of John Wesley Harding and the Paul Simon of both Simon’s 1972 eponymous solo album.
Enough from me, though; judge ‘Dear Marie’ for yourself and let me know what you think.