After taking a hiatus for two years to reevaluate his life and recover from major throat surgery in peaceful and desolate Montana, John Mayer is back and gracefully transitioning back into the music industry with his new album Born and Raised, released on May 22nd.
Mayer still proves that despite his probing throat problems, he’s still got it; Born and Raised is nothing short of 46 minutes of pure musical magic. Drawing influences from Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Crosby, Stills & Nash, Mayer uses his soothing blues-like voice and astounding guitar skills to open up listeners to the new chapter of his life that he has begun; one of hope, beauty, and tranquility.
With tracks like “The Age of Worry”, “Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey”, and “Queen of California”, you can tell that Mayer’s time in Montana among the heartland of the American West has left him bringing more elements of Americana and folk into his music. It’s just the kind of album you could picture yourself listening to while road tripping across the continental United States with the windows cracked open, the sun shining bright and your final destination not set. Listening to Born and Raised and hearing Mayer soulfully belt lyrics such as; “Go wild in the age of worry, and sing worry, why should I care?” inspires a sense of awe, spontaneity, and above anything, a newfound respect and deep love for the beauty surrounding us every day.
Of course though, John Mayer would not be John Mayer without a couple of crooning love on one of his albums. “Something Like Olivia” and “Fool to Love You” are just that. Except even with “Olivia”, and even with “Fool”, you can tell that something has changed in Mayer’s approach to love. The tempo has been brightened; the harmonicas have been brought in. Mayer seems to overall have become more optimistic on his outlook towards love and opening up to somebody else.
The most standout track on the album by far though is his single “Shadow Days”. The track exposes us to Mayer’s road to finding himself again amidst all the fame and corruption surrounding him, and him realizing that he at the core is a good man who has done some terrible things. I think the track stands out so much because so many of us can relate to it; even if we never become famous, we still have dark times when we feel as though we’ve lost ourselves and a sense of who we are. Mayer describes these painful times and how he rose above them-picking up the lost pieces of himself and putting them back together to create a better, stronger version of him.
Overall-the album is worth giving a full listen; just like every other Mayer album, it’s perfect for listening to when you are in need of relaxation or calming down, and is also perfect for those random summer adventures you decide to embark on. Mayer has shown through this album that he really has not only grown as an artist, but as a person-something that reflects in his music, and gives us a newfound appreciation for classical folk and Americana music that celebrates not just life and love, but the beautiful homeland that we were born and raised on.
-by Alex Heathcock