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John Mayer is an American singer-songwriter and musician. He has released five albums including Born and Raised which is the fifth one and came out this year.
I am a fan of John Mayer and listen to all his albums quite a lot. I really like his voice and he writes songs which are catchy but musically very interesting and not repetitive or formulaic. Compared to his previous albums I definitely think Born and Raised is a new sound for him as it has more of a folky and country style, particularly on some of the songs, which has not really been present in his work before.
=== Tracklist ===
1. Queen of California
2. The Age of Worry
3. Shadow Days
4. Speak For Me
5. Something Like Olivia
6. Born and Raised
7. If I Ever Get Around To Living
8. Love Is A Verb
9. Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967
10. Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey
11. A Face to Call Home
12. Born and Raised (Reprise)
There is also an iTunes bonus track, Fool to Love You, but I don't have this.
Shadow Days was the first single and Queen of California is the second single.
=== Individual Tracks ===
Queen of California is the second single off this album. Personally it's not a favourite of mine at all really, and I don't think it's the best single choice. It is a strong song, but I don't connect with it like I do with most of the others on the album. It does not really have the emotion that is usually present in John Mayer's songs. It is a completely different style and I think it shows how versatile he is, but I just don't love it really.
The Age of Worry is great and more like the John Mayer that I love! This is quite a rousing and optimistic song which can be interpreted in different ways. Personally I understood it as a song supporting women and against blaming victims of rape, which would be a great message to hear from a guy these days when victim blaming is so common in the media: "Don't be scared to walk alone, don't be scared to like it
There's no time that you must be home" and "give your heart then change your mind, you're allowed to do it" However, it could also just be about going your own way in life and following your heart.
Shadow Days is the first single on this album and is very catchy and soulful. It is about picking yourself up after rough times, and getting back on with your life: "Hard times help me see, I'm a good man with a good heart, Had a tough time, got a rough start, But I finally learned to let it go". I think it is no coincidence that this is the first song John Mayer came out with since his Battle Studies album a couple of years ago. He has faced a lot of criticism in the media (more in America than here, where he doesn't really get that much attention that I've seen) talking about how he has treated his exes and general bad behaviour, so this song seems to be a response to that in a way, trying to show he has moved on. The vocals are great, with depth and soul and it sounds heartfelt.
Speak For Me is also catchy and a bit country sounding. It is about a lack of music that can be identified with, "And the music on my radio, ain't supposed to make me feel alone". It is quite a laid back song and I enjoy it.
Something Like Olivia is the song I like the least on this album. It is a bit repetitive and just slightly annoying to me! It is about a woman called Olivia who is already in a relationship with someone else and he's saying he doesn't want to try and steal her away but he just wants someone like her.
Born and Raised is the album's title song and is quite a slow tuneful song with a thoughtful atmosphere. It sticks with the slightly country vibe of the album, which is especially apparent when there are some short bursts of harmonica. The song is about growing up or about realising you're an adult now "one of these days, you've been born and raised, and it all comes without warning". I feel like it has a slightly sad atmosphere of mourning childhood. This is a great song which a lot of people will relate to.
If I Ever Get Around To Living has a bit more of a typical John Mayer vibe for me. His vocals here are brilliant, clear and strong. This song could also be about growing up, or about being a bit of a dreamer. He sings "If I ever get around to living, it'll be just like I dreamed" and this makes me think of someone who spends all their time dreaming but not actually doing any of it.
Love Is A Verb goes in a bit of a different direction again. This one doesn't have any of the nostalgia or growing up themes of the previous couple of songs. John soulfully sings "love ain't a thing, love is a verb" and there is a catchy chorus of "so you gotta show show show show show show me.... love is a verb" It is short at 2:24. It is quite a simple and playful song.
Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967 is a song with a bit of a strange story. It is about a guy who makes a submarine and goes out in it. Everyone thinks he's crazy, but actually he survives and the message seems to be just go for it, work hard and you can do what you want. I like it.
Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey is one of my favourites on the album. I absolutely love it. It definitely has some country to it, with more harmonica again. I do love a bit of harmonica and it reminds me of some of Ryan Adams songs. John's vocals are brilliant on this again. There is some real emotion to it and he makes simple lyrics sound heartfelt, "whiskey whiskey whiskey, water water water, sleep, whiskey whiskey whiskey, wake up shake it off and repeat". There is a atmosphere of feeling a bit beaten down in this song and I love one bit where he sings "great, now it's raining" which seems to add to this atmosphere.
A Face to Call Home is another song I love. I think this is a clever song title as obviously it plays on a place to call home but pointing out that home can be a person rather than a place. There is real emotion in this song too. It is about a new relationship ("I can't believe a month is all it's been") and already thinking he could fall for this person, the feeling when you can't help making plans for the future. There are lots of metaphors of building a home in the song, with John as "an architect of days that haven't happened yet". It is a soft and loving song which shows some vulnerability. I like the part where he repeats "Maybe I can stay awhile" then "I'm talking like all of the time".
Born and Raised (Reprise) is another version or continuation of Born and Raised, but in a much more heavily country influenced style. Personally I do prefer the main song but this one is okay.
=== Over all ===
Although there are a couple of songs I don't love, there are some brilliant ones on here and the album as a whole is great quality. It really shows how talented and versatile John Mayer is at an artist and I would recommend it.