Born And Raised review by John Mayer

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  • Released: May 22, 2012
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 9.2 (95 votes)
John Mayer: Born And Raised
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Sound — 7
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.

Lyrics — 7
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."

Overall Impression — 7
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.

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    spyder52
    Mayer needs to get back to the blues! 'Where the light is' was so so amazing!
    kerokero
    His best album guitar-wise. And who is anyone to argue with that point? Everybody already knows, Mr. Mayer himself more than anyone else, what he's capable on guitar. But the acoustic/country setting is something we've yet to see him go 'wild' with. Which he does so in spades with this album. Less overdubs than any of his other records, less obvious singles. This is an album that harkens back to Dave Matthews, Bob Dylan, Neil Young sorts of music. Travis picking, stories of love, loss, and learning to lead a song with songwriting instead of technical prowess. I'm very impressed with what John did this time around. Wasn't expecting this sort of mood at all. Will be playing a lot this summer.
    cbabb7
    Anyone who rips on this album needs to give it multiple listens. Start to finish it is amazing.The guitar work is incredible. Its really the perfect summer album. Pick this up for some great inspiration to pick up ur acoustic or chill with ur friends around a fire with a few beers. These reviews def do not do it justice.
    giorgio-it
    Nobody seems to mention 'If I Ever Get Around To Living', which is for me the most genius song on the album and a track that i expected to be favored by many of you guys.
    blok31092
    These reviews are heavily biased. They even say that they aren't John Mayer fans. This is a great album and any true Mayer fan will tell you that. It features John's typical amazing songwriting and fantastic guitar. It is definitely simpler in terms of guitar but that is what makes John so special. I love this album because you can tell John made it for himself and didn't care if the public accepted this one. However, it is number 1 on iTunes and is definitely one of my favorites. Nothing will "top" Continuum but John will always be one of the greats.
    BwareDWare94
    It is truly unfortunate if he's no longer able to sing at some point. He's got such an amazing and underrated voice. He can hit beautiful high notes and as soon as he got rid of the breathiness of his first album, he was just spot on. I know he's an amazing guitarist and all, but his vocals are almost on par with his guitar work, if you ask me.
    Dragon Fly
    Great album! I was really disapointed with Battle Studies, but this new album is great! Beautiful songs! Great!
    fifopher
    Dragon Fly wrote: Great album! I was really disapointed with Battle Studies, but this new album is great! Beautiful songs! Great!
    Agreed!
    JBailey23
    I highly respect an artist who makes an album the way he wants to and not care what anybody else thinks. That's certainly the case with Mayer here recently. One thing I admire about his songwriting is just the minimalistic approach...it focuses deeper on the song itself than how cool a guitar lick is. In that thought this is why I really enjoy this album. No its not a Mayer guitar showcase album, he himself mentions he's putting that to the side for now...but it is a great album to listen to from beginning to end.
    jimmydvn
    I really think this could be John's best yet.. maybe because a lot of the people on this site like harder-rocking stuff, but the reviews don't do it justice. Album of the year so far (until the new Gaslight Anthem comes out of course)
    reignofrock
    Really? REALLY?! It's definitely the WORST Mayer record. I am highly dissapointed.
    FN77
    I'm not sure how the first review says this is a blues album, it isn't. Other than the progression on "Something Like Olivia," there really isn't anything on the album that would fall into that category for me. Fans who want him to make a blues album will not find it here, which should tell you what it isn't. And his first band was Villanova Junction, not LoFi Masters, which was him and Clay Cook, and since Clay Cook was part of songs on "Inside Wants Out" it's completely wrong to say they split because Mayer wanted to play pop.
    stndrdprcdre
    That's a shame about his throat thing. John Mayer Trio is amazing stuff and I'd love to see him go back to that someday. Everything else he releases is just forgettable pop garbage, for the most part.
    kerokero
    Ibeanez wrote: Frankly, the best thing for his career would be for him to stop singing, not that I wish any physical ailments on him. His vocals are the reason I never got into his music much.
    Really? I've actually never heard someone say that. What about it specifically don't you like?
    Ibeanez
    kerokero wrote: Ibeanez wrote: Frankly, the best thing for his career would be for him to stop singing, not that I wish any physical ailments on him. His vocals are the reason I never got into his music much. Really? I've actually never heard someone say that. What about it specifically don't you like?
    Well, I'm willing to check out his best vocals if you would point me to them. All the vocals I've heard from him have been wimpy, "hey girls, look at me, I'm sensitive!" type of stuff.
    Ibeanez
    Frankly, the best thing for his career would be for him to stop singing, not that I wish any physical ailments on him. His vocals are the reason I never got into his music much.
    a drummer
    Ibeanez wrote: kerokero wrote: Ibeanez wrote: Frankly, the best thing for his career would be for him to stop singing, not that I wish any physical ailments on him. His vocals are the reason I never got into his music much. Really? I've actually never heard someone say that. What about it specifically don't you like? Well, I'm willing to check out his best vocals if you would point me to them. All the vocals I've heard from him have been wimpy, "hey girls, look at me, I'm sensitive!" type of stuff.
    "Who Says"
    bpazolli
    I like John Mayer but I understand when people don't like his vocals.. he doesn't have a strong voice.. he is on key and does great with Shay he's got but what he's got isn't powerfull
    Vahi786
    I love John Mayer's bluesy music, and I know most people will probably hate me for saying so... But I think he does this whole Folk thing even better.