John Mayer’s newest love interest Katy Perry seems to have inspired a lighter country flavored album in his new release Paradise Valley. This new country edge was heard before when he released his prior album Born and Raised, perhaps from the influence of Taylor Swift; it seemed to the ear that he had toned down and matured into a relaxed yet still engaging style. This album is reminiscent of his “Your Body is a Wonderland,” which still claims innocence from a singer who is also known as a bad boy and heartbreaker.
This album is a combination of good feeling love songs as well as the occasional rambling that suggests that Mayer still has it in him to head for the highway when the relationship pulls him down. Mayer is a romantic and the trouble with romantics is that they love falling in love, time and time again so watch out Katy Perry! Their duet says it perfectly as she sings “hard heart to hold”. If the staying power is there it will be a first and for how long is another question but in the end it will make more music and we will continue to experience Mayer’s take of it all.
Mayer’s latest album, although pleasant, seems to be taking a direction towards the simple. Now there is something to be said about simplicity but where he goes from here remains the question. Will he lose the edge and intensity that we’ve heard from such performances as “Covered in Rain” from his Any Given Tuesday album, a time span in which his work was more introspective and perhaps more original and inspiring? Mayer’s guitar style can still be heard in the songs although they seem to be toned down. I miss his rock n roll guitar, in his bluesy way.
Highlights of this album include a cover of J.J. Cale’s Call Me the Breeze which Mayer pulls off in his own sulty style, a great tribute to the recently passed Cale, and takes us back to his older guitar style and sound. Another interesting old country sounding tune is “You’re No One Still Someone Lets You Down” that brings back the sounds of honky tonk.
All in all I’m still a fan and love following both Mayer’s career and the path of his guitar playing whether I love the country twangs and slides or not. He’s still one to watch and listen for.