For me, Where the Light Is > Heavier Things > Continuum > Room for Squares > Battle Studies > Paradise Valley.
It worries me that this is the kind of music JM actually wants to make. He isn't lowballing anyone. He has always wanted to do more within the constraints of a pop melody. Quite frankly, Battle Studies seems like Continuum in comparison to Paradise Valley.
This post confuses me. I don't see why you should be worried about the music he wants to make. I would be more worried if Mayer was still writing albums like Room for Squares or Heavier Things. Don't get me wrong, I love both of those albums, but I think one of the greatest things about Mayer is that he hasn't been afraid to change his sound. If you don't care much for his folk sound, that's a bummer, but I don't think you have to worry about this being the kind of thing he spends the rest of his career making. He's shown that he likes crossing genre lines, and once he's done with this trilogy, I'm sure we will get a new direction out of him again.
If you're open-minded and excited, you'll get lots of new and interesting records from an artist you've liked for a long time. If you're constantly looking for another Continuum or Heavier Things, then you're going to be disappointed, not because he'll never make a record that sounds like that again, but because you have personal ties to those songs that a return to form isn't going to be able to replicate. Case in point in this situation is Battle Studies, which you don't seem to care for. That album may not have been Continuum, but it was pretty close to Heavier Things, and look how that turned out for most of his listeners? I personally adore that album, but I can understand why people didn't love it: it's the closest thing in his catalog to a step back.
Personally I think it's got the same sort of arrangements as Belief, I Don't Trust Myself and to lesser degree Slow Dancing...
Similar arrangement maybe, but not the same kind of song. "Belief" is an intense slow-burner, "I Don't Trust Myself" is a throwback, and "Slow Dancing" is a bitter break-up anthem. "Who You Love" is a breezy, poppy love song, much closer to "Half of My Heart" or Your Body is a Wonderland" than to anything on Continuum
. Most of those songs just had higher stakes.
I really like it. I think B&R is better overall, but I like it more than Battle Studies right now.
I think it's a solid addition to his catalog, but has two of my least favorite songs (both the ones with guests) that he's had on an album in a while (since the song with Taylor Swift).
I just prefer an all John album ... especially when it's stripped down like this.
Completely agree with your last comment.