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Album: John Mayer, Battle Studies, (Columbia)

(Rated 3/ 5 )

Reviewed by Andy Gill

Though only moderately appreciated in the UK, in America John Mayer is a kind of all-purpose one-man media industry, combining a highly successful music career with sidelines in design, journalism and clothing, whilst becoming a gossip-column fixture through his relationships with such as Jessica Simpson and, most recently, Jennifer Aniston.

It's the collapse of this latter tryst that presumably provided the creative spark behind Battle Studies, which finds a dying relationship anatomised in ultimately tiresome detail in songs like "Heartbreak Warfare", "Perfectly Lonely" and "Friends, Lovers or Nothing". The Clapton-esque blues guitar prowess which has seen Mayer dubbed "Little Slowhand" has mostly been replaced here by a sort of California confessional style which owes much to the likes of Jackson Browne. Songs such as "Half of My Heart" and "Edge of Desire" are couched in a denim-clad AOR soft-rock that could be Bread or Pure Prairie League. It's this bland aspect of Mayer's music which makes his songs easy to project one's feelings onto; but ultimately, I'd take the ZZ Top-style version of Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" over the rest of this album any day.

Download this: Crossroads, Heartbreak Warfare, Who Says

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John Mayer's 'Battle Studies'
[info]hope_leaves wrote:
Friday, 13 November 2009 at 08:27 am (UTC)
Interesting review, however you don't really touch on how varied the song-craft actually is on the album. For example 'Assassin' one of the album's highlights, is a potential radio song that sounds completely unlike any other song released as a single with its lilting backing chants. And what about the Beatles-esque (but not derivative of) 'All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye'? It's one of the best ballads I've heard in years.

Although not Mayer's best ('Continuum' is pretty much unbeatable in that respect), this is a serious contender for album of the year.

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