Release Date: November 17, 2009
Sounds Like: Stevie Ray Vaughn, Maroon 5
After abandoning the signature acoustic rock sound that gave Mayer his claim to fame with “Continuum” and “Room For Squares” and focusing more on a blues-driven sound, Grammy Award-winning recording artist John Mayer finds a healthy medium with his latest studio release, “Battle Studies.”
The opening track, “Heartbreak Warfare,” sounds like the opening track to an indie film with a synthesized melody playing throughout the song. Though a good intro for the CD, it does miss the signature guitar riffs that Mayer has been so good at laying down in his songs.
Mayer collaborates with Taylor Swift in a Tom Petty / Stevie Nicks kind of way on the track “Half of My Heart.” The song lends its form to pop-rock with a country twist.
“Who Says,” the first single off the album and Mayer’s declaration to not answering to anyone, catches listeners by surprise. During most of the album Mayer gives the impression that he’s getting older, which he expresses through his music, but “Who Says” depicts him as back to the lifestyle of a 20 year old.
“Who says I can’t get stoned/ turn off the lights and the telephone,” Mayer sings at song’s opening, while, “I don’t remember you looking any better/ but then again I don’t remember you,” closes out the chorus. The song is a cross between a country and a pop song, but nonetheless it’s a gem.
The album serves well as Mayer’s most recent release, but some listeners may find his more experimental moments on tracks, such as “Assassin,” a bit out of place and unnecessary. However, he tends to bring the album back to a familiar sound with songs like “Friends, Lovers Or Nothing” and “War Of My Life.”
Whatever the “Battle” was for this record, Mayer also won the war.
Music reviewer Ian Mahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.