Awesome review, no doubt. Though, VERY small nitpick alert, it sort of seems like you're insinuating here...
"trying to wring a radio hit or some current relevance from proceedings." "I hope it’s his parting gift to the radio world. Mayer is great at playing the pop game, but he’s so much more interesting when he’s following less commercial aspirations."
...that he might be adapting part of the album to be more accessible (better wording escapes me, I don't mean to say you're accusing him of sacrificing anything.) This is far more of an observation than a complain, for the record. Maybe it's a bit of a crossroads there. (EDIT: Yeah, I miiiiight be reading too much into there, haha.)
I think there is a certain dichotomy between the mainstream stuff and the super old-fashioned country stuff. I don't think he actively sacrificed his artistic intentions to meet both sides of the coin, but I do think he's at a crossroads of sorts as an artist. He definitely wants to go down the more classic path, and that by default leads him away from his pop roots (as demonstrated by Born and Raised). I think that, with this album, he was either feeling label pressure to write a few big hits or wanting to get back to his previous levels of popularity.
In the past, he's always been able to balance his own ambitions and the desires of his radio fans really well. Heavier Things
, Battle Studies
, they've all got songs that bridge the gap well, songs that do well on the radio ("Daughters," "Waiting," "Half of My Heart") and songs that probably would never make it on modern pop radio ("Come Back to Bed," "I Don't Trust Myself," "Assassin"). Born and Raised
only really had the latter, and he didn't really know how to bring it back with this one, since the only kind of country that is really big in the mainstream right now is not the kind of music he would ever want to write. So he tried to balance it with guest spots and songs that aren't quite overtly rootsy as Born and Raised
, while still keeping the bulk of the record in a very traditional territory.
This looks poised to be John's worst album since RFS after listening to it 15-ish times. But considering the four albums in between, that's easily misleading, especially as this album's no less than the 8.5/10 it got here.
Agreed with this. I'd give Continuum a 9.5, Born and Raised a 9, and the other two 8.5s.
Really enjoyed your review and I agree with most of it. "Who You Love" is one of my favorite tracks, but that's just me. Frank Ocean's "Wildfire" should've been cut and his cover of "Call Me The Breeze" should've been replaced with an original. I feel like making those changes would've put this album on par with Born and Raised, but it's still a fantastic album nonetheless.
I saw him live about two weeks ago and it was one of the best concerts I've been to. If you have the opportunity to watch him live, do it.
"Who You Love" I just think is a little bit duller than what Mayer is capable of. The lyrics on that song are some of my least favorite on the record. It sounds nice enough though.
"Call Me the Breeze" is also fine, but it's kind of boring, and I don't quite get why he likes including covers on his albums so much. I like them, but I'd prefer them as b-side (a la "I'm on Fire" from Battle Studies
Hmmm I can definitely see your point, but I think his melodic and harmonic choices (especially favoring the 7ths and 9ths) are very reminiscent of the aforementioned albums, especially Battle Studies. I think it could play well with songs like "Half of my Heart."
I think "Who You Love" is either Heavier Things
or Born and Raised
. It's not bluesy or ambitious enough for Continuum.