Having become arguably the best loved blues-pop artist on Earth, with visits to virtually every mega-stadium of each nation, John Mayer’s latest album title The Search For Everything suggests that we find our hero in introspective mood, wondering what it’s all really about.
Perhaps not surprising after a whirlwind few years — the end of the noughties saw that deeply personal interview with Rolling Stone, after which Mayer retired from the public for some time. Then came the big health scare: he discovered a granuloma on his vocal chords, a real threat to his career.
Albums Born and Raised and Paradise Valley revealed a move into Laurel-canyon style folk and country influences, and we now find ourselves in the odd position of judging The Search For Everything, when most of it has been already released; in a true Spotify-era move, two EPs were released, The Search For Everything: Wave One and Wave Two. Either way, this foreshadowing revealed another artistic shift for Mr Mayer — the country-folk less predominant, making way for R&B influences, and an all round pop-rock sound. John Mayer has always been something of a marmite character in his straddling of blues-guitar hero that purists have to admire, with the stadium filling pop-sensibilities. The Search For Everything continues to prove that it’s what this man was put on the planet to do.
While most of this album revolves around the classic Mayer sound, opener Still Feel Like Your Man has surely the funkiest, R&B dancey feel that he’s ventured into as yet. As Mayer croons, “I still keep your shampoo in my shower, in case you want to wash your hair,” vintage keyboards and the guitar maestro going for a retro playing style mix up with a nonetheless contemporary sound; and you simply couldn’t open on a more solid note.
We then immediately revert to another of Mayer’s biggest selling-points: acoustic-folk. Emoji Of A Wave has a corker of a chorus as the singer belts out over male voices. The only complaint here is surely such a globally successful artist could have splashed out on a real string section, rather than the very MIDI-sounding violins and cellos we get here.
Love On The Weekend was one of the songs released on the promotional EPs, and it’s a song you can happily listen to on two separate records. It’s here you begin to realise this album has opted for a more ambient, slacker-rock sound, and I mean that in the most positive term. The extra reverb is a wonderful thing; the more minimal guitar and Mayer’s velvety tones unite to create something truly special here.