Mayer Has Found Himself (Album Review)
Between the years 2007 and 2011, John Mayer created a notable reputation for himself as an overindulgent, talented child who couldn't seem to keep quiet. In the final year of that epoch, his inevitable ascension to catastrophe dramatically led to a throat granuloma, multiple surgeries and, ironically, being medically forced to keep his mouth shut. Throughout his recuperation process, Mayer was involved in an on-and-off relationship with superstar singer Katy Perry, which lasted from 2011 to about early 2014. Their relationship received tabloid coverage, but Mayer was keen on largely refraining from comment; we can assume he had learned his lesson. Such news coverage, however, did reveal the healthy and committed nature of their relationship and the mutual compatibility the two shared. Rumors began circulating that Mayer was going to propose to Katy in song based on information provided by an undisclosed source. It was only until their relationship came to an end that the couple was met with surprised and heartbroken reactions from the public. Not long after, Mayer began creating what can be considered to be his most in-depth, powerful, and lyrically-memorable project to date, The Search for Everything chronicles the gut-wrenching, internal struggles that come with enduring the aftermath of a difficult breakup and searching for his true self.
The album’s opening track, "Still Feel Like Your Man," highlights Mayer's natural eye for rhythm section-creation. This song contains an irresistibly addictive groove behind its lead electric guitar parts that will turn your long drives into shoulder-bouncing dance sessions. The chorus's five-line, repetitious composition represents instability in the sadness that comes with wishing your relationship never ended. The follow up song, "Emoji of a Wave," is an acoustic ballad and a heartbreaker as it details the emotional endurance it takes to tackle those random waves of melancholy that come with an unwanted breakup. "Oh honey, oh honey / It's just a wave / It's just a wave and I know / That when it comes / I just hold on, I just hold on," sings Mayer. From these lyrics alone, the most honest relatability is felt. The third track off the album, "Helpless," is as soft rock as it is thought-provoking and brings Mayer's virtuosic guitar playing to the front of his songwriting.
The first single to be released from the album, "Love on the Weekend," claims the top number four spot of my all time favorites on this record. While lyrically simple and less innovative, the long decayed reverb of the musical composition unleashes emotions inside every hopeless romantic who hears it. It serves as an accessible contribution to modern pop music. The fifth track, "In the Blood," delivers a powerful message to the Gen Xer's of the world. "How much of my mother has my mother left in me / How much of my love will be insane to some degree / And what about this feeling that I'm never good enough / Will it wash out in the water or is it always in the blood," he sings, wondering if he himself is limited to his upbringing in regards to what his parents have given him. The song contains an extremely self-interrogative message and even dances around the blame game "I can feel the love I want / I can feel the love I need / But it's never gonna come the way I am."
"Changing," the sixth song, returns to highlighting Mayer's guitar playing with a blues solo in the bridge that screams Stevie Ray Vaughan. Melodically, it’s a little different than what we’re used to hearing from Mayer. But it's only until after this song that we hit the cinematic "Theme from 'The Search for Everything'," in which Mayer's voice is not heard at all, as it is a beautiful instrumental that can be symbolized in many ways. This track is truly a unique trait of the album. Mayer has not included any compositions similar to this one in his discography and it signifies the end of the album's first half and the beginning of its second. Next, we hit "Moving On and Getting Over," a funky, heart breaking, R&B composition that brings Mayer's compositional skills to light, sporting memorable harmonies and a hook that may eventually become an earworm."Never on the Day You Leave" is a sappy throwback to Mayer's "Dreaming with a Broken Heart" off his record Continuum that warns us to never take any relationship for granted. "Rosie" is a poppy, upbeat composition based off of an entirely fictional story that Mayer claims to have made up himself about a drunk wanting to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend.
Finally, the album is rounded out with "Roll It on Home," a country track that revisits the sound of Mayer's sixth record, Paradise Valley. It's lyrically clever and a testament to single, bar-hopping men all over the world "Nobody's gonna love you right / Nobody's gonna take you in tonight / Finish out the bottle, step into the light / And roll it on home," sings a weary Mayer. You won't be hearing this on the Top 40 anytime soon; or ever. “The Search for Everything” final track, "You're Gonna Live Forever in Me," will stop you dead in your tracks wherever you are when you first hear it. It's influenced by Randy Newman's most popular composition "You've Got a Friend in Me," and has got a Toy Story feel written all over it. Its bittersweet melody coupled with Mayer's piano playing leaves us with an image of the crooner sitting alone at a piano in a dark room, with maybe a tear or two on the keys, sadly singing the night away. This track “You're Gonna Live Forever in Me,” is a tearjerker that concludes the album on an emotional note.
On October 16, John turned 40. When asked what turning 40 meant to him, he replied, "Arrival. I've built the house, now it's time to live in what I've built." John, it's been a long and rough journey, but it is absolutely no secret that you have, indeed, found yourself inside The Search for Everything.
Luke McManus is a Staff Writer for FRETMONKEY RECORDS and a singer-songwriter and guitar player from Philadelphia.