Album review: John Mayer’s ‘The Search For Everything’ is a sad excuse for a comeback

Renowned musician John Mayer released his new album, The Search For Everything, last Friday. The 12 new songs incorporate a mix of drab vocals paired with overly whimsical instruments, making this album hard to take seriously.  

Mayer attempted to give old-school love songs a modern twist. Instead, he created sappy, lilting ballads that make it hard for the listener to sympathize with him and his troubles with romance.

“Still Feel Like Your Man” kicks off the album with a draggy harmony between Mayer and … himself. The lyrics of the song reflect Mayer’s attachment to an ex-lover and how even though he could get any woman he wants (we get it, dude, you’re hot) he still pines for his old flame. According to an interview between Mayer and Pitchfork, the song is directed towards Mayer’s ex, Katy Perry.

With lyrics such as “I still keep your shampoo in my shower/ In case you wanna wash your hair,” let’s hope that is all he is keeping of Perry’s, for her own sake.

Mayer also expresses deep emotions in his single “Emoji of a Wave.” Mayer’s breathy voice sings over a series of ditzy xylophones and string instruments, adding to the sappiness of the melody. This single is also an example of how Mayer tries to add mainstream touches where they are completely not needed. Not to mention, the word “emoji” is not mentioned in the song once.

Despite my numerous insults in regards to Mayer’s lackluster attempts to woo his audience with busted love songs, his mastery of guitar is phenomenal. Mayer has long held an acclaimed title for being one of the best blues guitarists in the world. He even got the opportunity to tour with the Grateful Dead on their Dead and Co. Tour during the summer of 2016. Mayer got to play as guitar legend Jerry Garcia, the former guitarist for the band, who passed away in 1995.

One of the most notable guitar moments in the album is within the song “Changing.” A ripping, colorful guitar solo makes up the bridge of the song. That moment of the song actually did the instrument justice, and woke me up out the daze I fell into after listening to the preceding five tracks.

What really gets me is that I was having a really hard time enjoying the fabulous guitar because Mayer paired the complicated riffs with sounds such as chimes or whistles. So instead of paying attention to how badass Mayer’s guitar skills are, I was picturing Clydesdales prancing through a meadow. Probably not what Mayer was going for.

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by the song, “Never on the Day You Leave.” The song is a soothing and flowy ballad about leaving a lover behind.  In this case, Mayer’s sulky tone really works in setting the overall mood of the song. I was also impressed that the instrumentals managed not to make me cringe. A powerful piano is the main player in the melody, helping to convey the heart-throbbing message.

Sadly, my optimism from hearing “Never on the Day You Leave,” and the following rather pleasant song, “Rosie” was unwarranted, as I was then hit with a country-inspired tragedy. At first, I found “Roll it on Home” to be kinda catchy, but then I listened closely to the lyrics. Mayer sings about a woman who can’t pick up a guy at a bar and that she should just go home. I find the meaning of this song redundant, and I found myself feeling bad for that poor girl instead of paying attention to the yet again masked guitar.

The factor that let me down the most about this album was that it really puts down Mayer as a brilliant artist. It is a known fact that he is a very talented guitar player and some of his past hits such as “Your Body is a Wonderland,” “XO” and “Free Fallin’” topped charts when they came out. This made my harsh remarks about The Search For Everything really painful to write.

I give The Search For Everything a 4/10. I really do appreciate John Mayer as a singer and guitarist, but this album is a sad excuse of a revival for him.

Contact CU Independent Arts writer Sam Danshes at sam.danshes@colorado.edu.

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