Mayer's third studio album reveals more than just lovesick melodies
Clean-shaven yet adorably shaggy, John Mayer's puppy-eyed look has played perfectly into the bluesy, romantic crooner he'd always been. Until now.
With the release of his third studio album, "Continuum," the final installment in a trilogy that also includes "Heavier Things" (2003) and "Room for Squares," (2001) Mayer reveals a brazen outspokenness that has never before been displayed in his music. Undoubtedly his most soulful album to date, Mayer moves away from his signature lovey-dovey tunes, and instead opts for an edgier sound, evident in the album's first released single, "Waiting on the World to Change."
Much to the astonishment of many fans, Mayer uses his first single not only to promote the launch of "Continuum," but also as a platform for political commentary. A bold jab at the Bush administration's justification for the military campaign in Iraq, Mayer sings "Now if we had the power/To bring our neighbors home from war/They would have never missed a Christmas/No more ribbons on their door/And when you trust your television/What you get is what you got/Cause when they own the information, oh/They can bend it all they want." Despite the bold content, fans will still be pleased that the track still features all of the familiar attributes of Mayer's music - smart, upbeat and gorgeously lyrical.
This fusion of new, edgier ideas along with the same old tried and true bluesy musicality seems to be the theme of this album, a testament both to Mayer's prowess as an artist, and now, a producer too.
Hitting the same note as "Waiting on the World to Change," "Belief," the album's third track, was another politically-driven joust by Mayer. Using lyrics to create stunning images, Mayer sings about how people's beliefs have led countries into war and other unnecessary altercations, that "It's the chemical weapon/ For the war that's raging on inside." Towards the end of the song, the images that Mayer conjures are borderline controversial as he sings, "What puts a hundred thousand children in the sand/Belief can/Belief can/What puts the folded flag inside his mother's hand/Belief can/Belief can."
If Mayer's political commentary rubs you the wrong way, do not be turned off by the addition of those tracks on the album. Throughout the rest of the album, Mayer sticks to his guns and serves his classic blues-gospel-rock 'n' roll hybrid style that everyone knows and loves.
The album's best bluesy track is "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room," which shows a truly sophisticated and mature facet in Mayer's talent. A narrative about a relationship going downhill, the track is classic John Mayer--subtle, understated and yet strikingly emotional. Accompanied by a simple melody, the star of the track is Mayer's smooth, velvety voice which plays in perfectly with the track's heartbreaking lyrics. Other tracks with a similar style include "I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)," "Gravity" and "Dreaming with a Broken Heart."
Another Mayer staple is his knack for singing endearing songs. "Stop this Train" is exactly that. Reminiscent of Jack Johnson and his song "Breakdown," Mayer's track talks about the speed of life and his desire to just slow down, never grow up and never commit to any responsibilities. A thought shared by many young and reckless, Mayer is advised by his father to "…renegotiate/Don't stop this train/Don't for a minute change the place you're in/Don't think I couldn't ever understand/I tried my hand/John, honestly we'll never stop this train." Other heartfelt tracks on the album include "The Heart of Life," "Bold as Love" and "I'm Gonna Find another You."
Classy yet comfortable, "Continuum" is an excellent representation of John Mayer as a mature artist. Mayer's sophisticated and artsy sounds are refreshing in world where chicken noodle soup with a soda on the side is a subject worth singing about, and feature characteristics that appeal to both longtime fans and new discoverers. A welcome escape, Mayer hits all of the right notes with "Continuum," a trend that many hope continues in his future works.
Elsi Wu. Elsi Wu is really a middle-aged, obese Italian man. A perky CAP junior who lives for ESPN, Superbowl Sunday, Poms, and food, she watches Friends and Oprah RELIGIOUSLY along with any Redskins/Maryland games (you know, normal activities for the average obese Italian man). Instead of … More »