Last year John Mayer took a brief hiatus from his solo recording career to join studio musicians Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino as the John Mayer Trio. The group played a significantly more blues-inflected style of rock than Mayer's previous style of pop-rock. On Continuum he incorporates lessons learned to produce adult pop-rock with a welcome new depth to the sound.
Big Picture Commentary Right on Target
John Mayer adds new lyrical gems to his repertoire on Continuum. The lead single "Waiting on the World to Change" is an exploration of political inaction in his generation that rings true. "Stop This Train" explores fears of death and losing one's parents before finding reassurance in the wisdom that comes with age. "Gravity" is a stripped down, elemental look at concerns about self-destructive thought. In Mayer's world-view, the universality of the blues is laid bare.
When John Mayer looks out at his world with a songwriter's pen, he views things his world with unblinking clarity. His examination of his own worldly concerns carry a universal feel that makes the songs instantly accessible and memorable.
We've Heard the Problems in Love Before
Unfortunately, as John Mayer explores the travails of love gone wrong, the instinctive response is that much of this has been heard before. Songs like "I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)," "The Heart of Life," and "Dreaming With a Broken Heart" get mired in self-loathing or cliches about the universal healing power of love. These songs are not revelatory enough to maintain concentration. When you finish listening to the album, these songs are unlikely to be truly memorable.
- Waiting on the World to Change
- Stop This Train
Stellar Guitar Work Makes 'Continuum' Well Worth Hearing
Outside of songwriting skills and engaging voice, John Mayer is also a stellar guitarist. Mayer's guitar work on much of Continuum adds such subtle touches that casual listening can miss the incandescent beauty shining through. A cover version of Jimi Hendrix' classic "Bold as Love" proves John Mayer can keep up with guitar legends.
Continuum is well worth hearing. If you are new to the music of John Mayer, it will be a welcome surprise. However, if you are familiar with Mayer's previous work, the lyrical and musical depth that has emerged from his experiments with blues-rock will make you eager to continue to fall John Mayer's ongoing development as an artist.