Sound — 10
This album was born out of John Mayer's desire to move away from his acoustic ladies-man image, and become a credible blues guitarist, in the mould of his heroes Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton. In the period between his last album Heavier Things, John had collaborated with many legends of blues and jazz, such as John Schofield and Clapton himself, as a precourser to this tour and subsequent album. The album's overall sound is sparse in the basic setup of the trio, but the playing and tightness of the band conjure a big sound. John has recruited two of the best in renowned session bassist Pino Palladino and drum expert Steve Jordan, and the feel of the sound and performance are greatly enhanced by their prescence. In the form of songs such as the original 'Gravity', 'Out Of My Mind' and Ray Charles' 'I Got A Woman', Mayer shows incredible knowledge and tact with the blues, making those who are familiar only with 'Your Body Is A Wonderland' and 'Daughters' (which appears on this album in a bluesy, yet even more beautiful form) scratch their heads in disbelief. Mayer also dips into Clapton-esque rock, with songs like 'Another Kind Of Green' and 'Good Love Is On The Way', which are both riff-driven pop-rock songs. The most impressive sounds in this album aren't from the songs though, they are from Mayer's guitar. When in full flow, Mayer is just on another planet! His technique and feel demostrates that he has been hiding this guitar hero in him for too long.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are very good throughout the album, aside from the blues workout of 'Out Of My Mind', which makes use of the archetypal repetition technique. I am not a fan of this particularly so this is disappointing, especially when his other stand-out blues track, 'Gravity', is utterly fantastic. The lyrics and music combine so brilliantly on this track it can qualify instantly as a modern classic! Mayer's songs have always had romantic, yet often clever, lyrics which I am big fan of, however, if you are looking for arch literary lyrics, this is the wrong place to come.
Overall Impression — 10
What you must remind yourself of, even when listening to this album, is that is a live record. This is certainly the best live album I've heard (I haven't heard 'Live At Leeds' yet, so don't shoot me yet). The trio are fantastic, not at all just John Mayer's lackeys, but a fully functioning band, with a deep musical empathy and fantasic dynamism. Apart from the lyrics of 'Out Of My Mind' this album is flawless in every sense, and very successful in it's job of establishing the new side of John Mayer.