By: Anna Story
John Mayer began his career in 2001 when his first album, “Room for Squares”, was released. He quickly began his rise to fame with well-known hits such as “Your Body Is a Wonderland”, “Daughters”, and the monotonous yet infamous song, “Say”. After yet another hit album, “Battle Studies”, was released in 2009 his fans eagerly waited for more from this talented male vocalist. “Born and Raised” was released May 22, 2012 and it was an immense change in style from Mayer’s usual genre. Resembling famous artists such as Bob Dylan, this album has both a folk rock and southern country rock style. It is not simply the change in genre that makes this album stand out from the rest but also the change in lyrics and messages in the songs compared to his past hits tell us that John Mayer is a much more versatile and talented musician and vocalist than we thought.
It is easy to tell that this album stands out from the rest simply by looking at the album cover. Big John Mayer fans will be able to tell in a heartbeat that this album is unlike the rest because instead of having their favorite male vocalist starring on the album cover it is simply a drawing stating “Born and Raised”. It is simple to tell that this album will be a change in style with its sepia color shading along with the old, rustic font of the wording.
Something about this album raises questions. What we all want to know is what made this artist take such a huge step in the other direction going from a pop rock artist to a country folk. In his first song on the album, “Queen of California”we discover that he has headed out west and has obviously been affected by this change in setting in more way than one. Magazines have reported that he has had many reasons to move out of the city life over the past couple of years. He was publicly scorned by Taylor Swift, he watched his parents get divorced, and he suffered a tough vocal problem causing him to postpone his 2011 tour. After pushing through these hardships Mayer was reported to have moved out west to Montana where he bought a house and began to live a new life.
This latest album shows a new side of Mayer. It shows a more sincere and humble artist than we have seen in his earlier albums. Mayer confesses to trying to make a more light-hearted country rock album filled with songs you can sing to while sitting around a fire on a Friday night. In this album we can see the remorse and sadness Mayer is trying to release while out in exile in Montana. We see this the most in the second track on the album, “Shadow Days”. In this song Mayer proclaims that his “Shadow days are over now”. In other words he is starting anew, and is letting go of all his past wrong doings.
“Born and Raised” has triggered several different emotional responses with each song. As mentioned before “Shadow Days” lets the audience know that Mayer is done playing games with women. But more importantly it lets them know that he is dedicating himself to his music once again; giving his fans a role model to look up to and a future to look forward to.
What John Mayer really does well is he includes so many different styles in his songs without breaking the overall style and mood of the album as a whole. He uses different instruments to give each song a unique sound. For example, in his opening song “Queen of California” Mayer uses a mini folk guitar to bring out his southern country rock sound. But in his song “Something Like Olivia”, Mayer uses a hint of church organs in the background of his song to give off a sort of Church hymn style. Although this song has a complete different style to it compared to the rest, it does not break the flow of this calm and relaxing soundtrack.
Looking at this album name, “Born and Raised” we see that the purpose of publishing this album was far more than simply getting another hit song or another award. John Mayer left his dark days and he headed out west to separate himself from his mistakes. He wrote “Born and Raised” not only to let his audience know that he is changing into a better man but also as a sort of redemption for himself. John Mayer’s change in style marks a change in himself. He grows with his music and with each spurt of growth we get to celebrate another great work of music.