No one is a lot more conscious of what persons feel about John Mayer than John Mayer himself. The title of his eighth studio album acknowledges past accusations of sad-boy mopery. The muted pastels of the throwback include art, complete with a simulation of the “Nice Price” sticker that Columbia Documents utilized to slap on its discount LPs, dares you to contact him a purveyor of slick, dated studio-rock.
Is this self-deprecating? A jab at critics? Possibly way, the self-consciousness of the packaging is notably absent from Mayer’s tunes itself. He may well occur off glib in interviews, but he’s possibly blessed or cursed with an incapacity to protect any ironic length from his materials, so what may well feel like style exercises from a flashier performer seem as heartfelt as diary entries. The guy can not even sing a cliché like “the highway keeps rolling on forever” insincerely.
Mayer is a sly craftsman and a virtuoso chameleon on guitar, adept at mimicking disparate types. A booming drum intro announces the lead observe, “Last Coach Home,” which sounds like a historical recreation of a forgotten Eighties soundtrack minimize, finish with a handful of inexpensive time period-suitable Eric Clapton guitar bursts. The veteran Chicago hip-hop producer No I.D. collaborates with him on the sleek pop-funk of “New Light-weight.” And on the disillusioned “I Guess I Just Feel Like,” Mayer solos with the Jerry Garcia-like tone that gained him his career touring with the Grateful Dead.
Mayer has assembled some elegant accomplices for Sob Rock. Producer Don Was built his title in the ’Eighties and Nineties helping middle-aged rockers like Bonnie Raitt and the Stones adapt to modern types without heading overboard. Sensible country-pop groundbreaker Maren Morris contributes fitting harmonies. And as session adult males go, the two his core touring band, bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Aaron Sterling, and Greg Phillinganes, the keyboardist who appeared on the two Thriller and Tunes in the Vital of Existence, are the cream of the crop.
Lyrically, Mayer can be bitter, complaining: “You shoulda been sad alternatively of staying so fuckin’ mean” on “It Shouldn’t Issue But It Does,” or philosophical, quipping “Hurt me when I let it be/Harm me twice you’re lifeless to Me/A few times will make you family” on the regrettably titled “Why You No Appreciate Me,” or even hopeful on “Til the Appropriate Just one Will come.” But uniting these distinctive moods, and the different designs in which Mayer dabbles, is the effortless heat in his voice, which never ever places way too a great deal excess weight behind his heartbreak or his joy. He sings like a male who appreciates his spot in the environment.