Small town Connecticut boy, turned glitzy playboy and egomaniac. Yes, we’re talking about John Clayton Mayer. At 42 years, Mayer is still living in the shadow of his past mistakes from earlier interviews making himself appear as a womanizer and prejudiced. But whether you love him or hate him, you cannot deny his Grammy award winning talent. His last album, also his seventh studio album, was released in 2017 titled, The Search for Everything. Through a smart business venture, Mayer opted to release his album first with two, four-song “waves.” This was an effective tactic, constantly drawing people in with each release, tailoring to the streaming era.
The transparency of Mayer’s recent breakup with musician Katy Perry could not be more evident on this record, starting with “Still Feel Like Your Man.” While this track touches on the devastation of his breakup singing, “I still keep your shampoo in the shower/in case you wanna wash your hair,” clinging onto any last piece of her memory. But it becomes hard to sympathize when he sings other lyrics like “the prettiest girl in the room she wants me/ I know because she told me so.” As much as Mayer tries to erase his conceded frat boy persona, we still see it John, we see it. And to top off the track, he released a music video! Dancing with pandas! So the direction of this entire track seems a bit lost. This obsession with his past love is still present in tracks like, “Moving On and Getting Over,” the cliché “Changing,” and the piano heavy “Never on the Day You Leave.”
Within this album, Mayer mixes many genres and styles, including a 1:51 orchestrated track, “Theme from “The Search for Everything.” Mayer also slipped into the country genre, with tracks like “In the Blood,” “Roll it on Home,” and “Emoji of a Wave.” These roots-inspired tunes were similar musically to his previous studio albums, Born and Raised (2012) and Paradise Valley (2013). “In the Blood” even landed John on country radio stations, being a slow and stripped down jammie, with a more humble voice talking about his family, which is rare for Mayer. It becomes too evident that Mayer is trying to remain hip and cool with his song “Emoji of a Wave.” While it’s a fine acoustic track, the title is so confusing. Why emoji? No other mention of the word in the lyrics, it’s just ~there.~
The biggest hit of the album, as well as the single, "Love on the Weekend." A laid back yet buoyant track about getting away for the weekend, complete with a repeated musical motif and catchy hook; Mayer knows how to craft a hit. Mayer is coping through his track “Helpless,” and “Rosie.” But “Rosie” is the bluesy track you’ve been yearning for. The main guitar riff repeats blending each section (verse and chorus) together, and really is the backbone of the track. Definitely the grooviest of the album. And last but not least we have the ending piano ballad, “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me.” This track is a bittersweet memory reel of his relationship, told eloquently. With every relationship, you’re bound to leave a part of yourself in the other person and this track explains that narrative.
Personal feelings aside, the guitar ability of John Mayer is indisputable. His capacity to glide between different genres, whether he’s writing solo music or playing guitar for Dead and Co., from heavy rhythm guitar sections, to melodic phrases and wailing bluesy solos--Mayer has chops.
LONG STORY SHORT: Mayer might be ‘helpless’ when it comes to his public image. But The Search for Everything is John’s lament of his relationship, blending waves of genres with Mayer’s meticulous guitar playing. Nothing groundbreaking. Easy listening, good guitar.