25 September 2009

Why John Mayer... why

I have listened to John Mayer's new single "Who Says" over ten times since it was released on johnmayer.com earlier this weekend.

This does not necessarily mean it's a good thing.

As I've mentioned before, I'm not sure what to make of this song. From the acoustic version he's playing around L.A. for months now to the little snippets we heard while he was hosting on the radio to now the final product released through his website and the one that will be going national very soon (tentatively on Monday).

I'm surprised by this. I loved the acoustic version, the sample was growing on me, but now I'm underwhelmed. I love this little song so much - it reminds me of a contemporary Johnny Cash/James Taylor sound but it's not John Mayer level material. I'm used to his singles being the worst songs on the albums but still ten times better than the rest of the garbage on the radio. Now though there's actually a lot some stations are offering in terms of excellent singles that truly are the best on many artists' albums. When Mayer first debuted, his sound was fresh and witty. While his voice still distinguishes him from other singer/songwriters -and his musicianship in general- this song is not what I expected. Of course it's wonderful to be pleasantly surprised by your favorite musician but I'm still on the fence about whether this is a "pleasant" surprise or not.

I have no real credentials to give a thorough rundown of what is good or bad within a song but I know John Mayer's catalog better than the back of my own hand. I know every lyric, every guitar part (through humming that is), and every song he's performed that hasn't even been released. I'm going to love this new album and embrace it with every fiber of my music-loving heart no matter what the first single is but I just wish it had been... different.

I still listen to his last album, Continuum, nearly every day and it's over three years old so I'm sure I'll love Battle Studies just as much (check out "Half of My Heart" - that's my song so far) but it's just that "but" that's getting in the way. I'm too old for the pop thing and I don't want Mayer's sound to evolve into something I can't relate to anymore.

So I'll go download it and enjoy it like it's the greatest thing to hit the airwaves since Tom Petty debuted in the '70's but I'd still prefer something a little more blusey and funky from a supposed guitar master.

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