Released: May 22, 2012
Genre: Folk Rock, Blues Rock, Americana
Label: Columbia, Sony Music
Number Of Tracks: 12
This is the fifth studio album release by John Mayer, and possibly the last (or the last where he provides his own vocals) due to a recurring throat granuloma. In the past John Mayer's albums have ranged from pop to blues, but "Born And Raised" seems to be almost exclusively country blues.
Born And Raised
UG Team, on may 23, 2012 6 of 8 people found this review helpful
Sound: John Mayer started his career in Atlanta, Georgia in a band called LoFi Masters that was a duo with John and a friend. The band broke up due to creative differences, namely John's gravitation towards pop music. John Mayer released his first album, "Room for Squares", in 2001, which received international attention with several hits, including "Your Body is a Wonderland". From there John Mayer's career exploded and over time he began to move back towards blues, which was his first musical interest. "Born and Raised" is John Mayer's fifth studio album and is almost exclusively blues with a very country feel to it. There are twelve tracks with a run time of just over 46 minutes. The first single, "Shadow Days", was released in late February and gave a pretty good indication of the sound and spirit of the rest of the album.
Really, the best way I can think to describe the album is to think of a college kid playing an acoustic guitar on the green, then add a twist of blues and a twist of country. Afterwards, add minimal studio wizardry used sparingly and sprinkle with harmonica and a strat. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it definitely is going to limit the range of listeners. The guitar is maybe more minimal than you would want from a blues album, with a lot of lap steel, but the finished product does indeed sound like a finished product. // 7
Lyrics: The vocal delivery sounds pretty much the standard for John Mayer - to me he always has sounded like a mellower version of Dave Matthews (yes, even MORE mellow than Dave Matthews), but it seems to work for his music. Listening to this album seems like something you would do if you were really sitting around chilled out, maybe while sipping a beer. I can't really say much as John Mayer's voice has been under duress with a recurring throat granuloma, but maybe that explains why it sounds like he is trying to take it easy vocally in order to preserve his voice.
As an example of the lyrics from the album, here are some of the lyrics from "Shadow Days": "(first verse) Did you know that you could be wrong/ And swear you're right/ Some people been known to do it/ All their lives/ But you find yourself alone/ Just like you found yourself before/ Like I found myself in pieces/ On the hotel floor/ Hard times have helped me see/(chorus) I'm a good man, with a good heart/ Had a tough time, got a rough start/ But I finally learned to let it go/ Now I'm right here, and I'm right now/ And I'm open, knowing somehow/ That my shadow days are over/ My shadow days are over now/ (second verse) Well I ain't no troublemaker/ And I never meant her harm/ But it doesn't mean I didn't make it hard to carry on/ Well it sucks to be honest/ And it hurts to be real/ But it's nice to make some love/ That I can finally feel/ Hard times let me be". Really, the lyrics are well written - John Mayer has always had that going for him. In the singer/songwriter department he knows his business. // 8
Overall Impression: I've always had a love/hate relationship with John Mayer. At times he has seemed unauthentic to me as an artist and sometimes his music has swung much too far into the realm of pop music. Other times he has created very genuine music or collaborated with very genuine musicians. The end result is I really don't know what to think about John Mayer. With my mixed up feelings aside, "Born And Raised" is a pretty solid album but it isn't for everybody. The people who will enjoy this album are John Mayer fans and blues enthusiasts. The album is pretty mellow throughout, and predominately has a country blues feel to it, which may very well turn off a lot of potential listeners. With "Born And Raised" I realize I've almost given up my animosity towards John Mayer and getting close to just letting myself enjoy his music for what it is. My favorite tracks on the album are "Shadow Days" and "Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967". I can't say that I dislike any of the other tracks on the album, but there are several that I feel lukewarm about - this would include "Love Is A Verb" and "Something Like Olivia" among others. The downfall of this album is that a lot of the songs run together for me on subsequent listens.
Born And Raised
FN77, on may 23, 2012 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Although the singer/songwriter was recently forced to cancel his tour due to granuloma surgery, the "Born And Raised" album will still be released as scheduled on May 22nd at a record store near you (if you can still find one). However, the entire album did begin streaming for free on iTunes, starting on May 14th.
Much like with all of his other four studio albums, John Mayer's latest offering sounds nothing like his previous one. After winning Grammys for his Pop and Blues playing, Mr. Mayer has decided to throw his comically large hat into the Americana/Folk ring. Mayer returns almost exclusively to the acoustic guitar on this album, but the presence of slide-guitar and harmonica gives the album a heavy folk, sometimes slightly country, feel. Mayer said he was influenced this time around by the style of Bob Dylan, and it is easy to hear that come through on songs such as, "The Age Of Worry".
While this album proves there is probably no genre of music John Mayer could not play well, it also proves he is still at his best when he is bringing his unmatched clean electric-guitar tone through his cracked Two-Rock amp on a Blues solo. This album sounds good and does achieve what it set out to, but nothing about "Born And Raised" is all that musically complex or inherently interesting. When I think of a great John Mayer song, I think of the incredibly challenging progression of "Neon", or the saturated Blues solos on "Where The Light Is", which "B&R" just does not have. // 7
Lyrics: Easy is the word I have to use to describe Mayer's lyrics on this album. While he is usually one of the best manipulators of the metaphor, the lyrics on "Born And Raised" do not measure up to previous records. The entire 13 tracks are proficient enough reminders of Mayer's ability to make melodies and catchy hooks, but nothing jumps up and demands your attention the way "Slow Dancing In A Burning Room" or "Stop This Train" did. The rhymes on this album seem to find simple and obvious partners far quicker and more frequently than on any other Mayer record. In the song, "Shadow Days", Mayer sings, "But you find yourself alone just like you found yourself before, like I found myself in pieces on the hotel floor." Proficient songwriting sure, but inspired it is not. The song "Speak For Me" is another perpetrator of this with lines such as, "Now the cover of a Rolling Stone, ain't the cover of a Rolling Stone. And the music on my radio, ain't supposed to make me feel alone." Meh.
There are times on "Born And Raised" when he occasionally does have something to say, such as "Love Is A Verb", "Born And Raised" and "Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967", but overall the lyrics fail to live up to his lofty standards. I loved the line in the soon-to-be road-trip favorite, "Queen Of California", "Jodi wrote Blue' in a house by the sea, I know there's got to be another color waiting on me", and "I'm heading out West with my headphones on, boarding a flight with a song in the back of my soul, that no one knows." // 7
Overall Impression: After delivering "Try", "Continuum" and "Where The Light Is", I now expect a John Mayer album to be a 10/10, and "Born And Raised" simply is not. The Beatles-esque titled, "Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967" is probably the most interesting track on the album which one can say reminds them of Mayer's more creative introspection. As the song is one giant metaphor itself, it will fit nicely in Mayer's catalog of music, but not many of the other 12 tracks will find the same fate.
It feels like I am giving the album a negative review, but at a 7/10, it is well worth purchasing, but just don't expect it to blow your mind or put Mr. Mayer back on "Rolling Stone's" Guitar God magazine cover any time soon. But perhaps the same way John Mayer brought Blues' legends, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix back to the minds of a younger generation of listeners, so too will "Born And Raised" bring kids backwards from John Mayer to Bob Dylan and Neil Young. // 7
Born And Raised
Pjvan01, on august 16, 2013 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: This is John Mayer's dip into folk and Americana. There is none of those blues-rock licks we all know and love. However, with that being said, I find this to be my favorite studio album he's ever put out. With prominent folk and country influences, John Mayer sounds so relaxed and at home with himself on this album.
01. "Queen of California" - A great riff throughout the song. Slide guitar can be heard throughout, giving the track a country feel to it. Mayer provides a simple melody that works well with the instrumentation.
02. "The Age of Worry" - A much more complex riff throughout the song that sticks with you. John Mayer sings in a lower register about losing worry in the daily life. This song has a nice, open feel to it. It's very relaxing.
03. "Shadow Days" - My least favorite song on the album, sonically speaking. I'm not a big fan of slide guitar, which is prominent on this track. The vocals seem meshed together and the melody is repetitive. Some nice guitar work, but that's about it.
04. "Speak for Me" - A nice acoustic song. Some of my favorite songs of his are acoustic, but this one doesn't hit it for me. He has a nice vocal quality throughout, using both his lower register and falsetto, and the guitar is actually really technical if you listen really close to it. But to me, it seems a little empty.
05. "Something Like Olivia" - The bluesiest song on the album, using a simple G-C-D shuffle. This is definitely a standout track on the album, which is much-needed after two filler tracks. The track is definitely going to be a favorite of those who liked Continuum. This song has a great vocal, using layered background vocals to give the song a gospel feel, paired with simple yet effective guitar work throughout.
06. "Born and Raised" - One of my favorite songs on the album, John Mayer vocally kills on this track, employing Crosby & Nash for backup vocals. The harmonica is what makes the song, although the acoustic work in the background is a nice subtle touch. Just a happy song.
07. "If I Ever Get Around to Living" - This song isn't for everybody, but no matter what, give it a play through. Some might be turned off by it's length (5:22). At first, I hated it, but with a couple of listens it began to grow on me. One could definitely fall asleep to this song. It has a lounge-meets-folk feel.
08. "Love Is a Verb" - Although a little repetitive lyrically, this song is incredible. John doesn't take himself too seriously and just lays down a track about loving someone. The harmonies and guitar are relatively simple, but so is the song. The only real issue is how short the song is (2:25).
09. "Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967" - A song about the invention of the submarine. I am not joking. The vocals are my favorite from the album, but bear a resemblance to a Jonas Brothers song, "Lovebug." There is great instrumentation, implementing brass, piano, acoustic and electric guitar and a snare drum, giving a slow march feel to it. Don't take the song too seriously, but it's still my favorite on the album.
10. "Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey" - The chorus in this song will be stuck in your head. For. Days. Although the song is a little bittersweet, it is a standout track on the album. The harmonica and swells of organs and slide guitars are the main instrumentation in the song, which is most certainly not a bad thing. The vocals are pretty simple and a little repetitive, but the melody is still nice and catchy.
11. "A Face to Call Home" - This song took a while to grow on me, but once it did I really liked it. There aren't any gimmicks to this song, just a singer-songwriter track with a Dave Matthews-esque outro. Would've been the perfect song to end the album. Nice big guitars in the end, which is great.
12. "Born and Raised (Reprise)" - I really don't see the point of this track. I mean, I like it, but it's not a good way to end an album. A simple country song with more vocals from Crosby & Nash, more harmonica, and a Paul Simon-esque vocal from John Mayer. // 9
Lyrics: Lyrically, there are some hit and misses throughout the album. The best song for me lyrically was "A Face to Call Home." He's singing about love, but in a unique, slightly abstract way. Here are some lyrics from the song "I am an architect//Of days that haven't happened yet//Can't believe a month is all it's been//You know my paper heart//The one I filled with pencil marks//I think I might've gone and inked you in." Meanwhile, songs like "Shadow Days" seem... boring lyrically. It has a nice message, but the lyrics don't seem very thought out "I'm a good man with a good heart//Had a tough time, got a rough start//But I finally learned to let it go//Now I'm right here, and I'm right now//And I'm open, knowing somehow//That my shadow days are over, my shadow days are over now." Overall, the album contains more hits than misses so... // 7
Overall Impression: Overall, I love this album. Yes, it is a grand sonic departure, and it is prone to fillers just like most every other album is. To me, the standout tracks are "The Age of Worry," "Something Like Olivia," "Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967," "A Face to Call Home" & "Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey." I love how light the album is as a whole, both musically and lyrically. He keeps the subject matter light for the most part, and the musical textures throughout the CD are nice and airy, yet complementative to the song. If someone were to steal this album, I'd gladly go to the nearest record store, and buy two copies in case one was stolen again. // 9