Finally! My school paper comes out tomorrow, but if you’re up this late and on this site, you can read my very first column/review in advance! Lucky you!
John Mayer is hard artist to pin down: one moment he’s singing a bubbly pop tune, the next, he’s playing a deep, thoughtful blues piece. Then, he throws a bit of funk into the mix. Usually, when artists try to experiment with various different styles, the result is nothing special, a song made simply to fit a genre label.
But Mayer plays all of these styles wonderfully, and it’s hardly surprising. His influences include Jimi Hendrix, whose Bold As Love he covers in Continuum, Eric Clapton, whom he credits in the album booklet, and B.B. King, with whom he worked on Kings’ album 80.
This may be well and good, but does he continue this tradition with Continuum? Absolutely. Continuum is a twisting, turning journey through Mayer’s eclectic musical talents and influences. The album opens with the bouncy single Waiting On The World To Change. Waiting has a great jazzy rhythm accentuated by high-pitched horns and a Motown-themed background choir.
The next song, I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You), is a sharp contrast to the airy style of Waiting with its slower rhythm and an overall blues style. This song is much darker in mood than the first. Belief (Track 3) is more of the same with a quicker tempo but with a more pervasive sense of defeat (Mayer sings: “We’re never gonna beat this”). Gravity, the fourth track, is like an evolved Belief. However, instead of singing that “we’re never gonna stop the war,” Mayer defiantly proclaims, “Gravity/Stay the hell away from me.”
In the track Vultures, Mayer alternates between his trademark vocal style (in the verse) and a high falsetto (in the chorus). The musical styles of this song remind me of classic ‘80s Luther Vandross, but the lyrics are strictly Mayer’s. The Heart Of Life and Stop This Train, the tracks surrounding Vultures, have a distinct folk feel to them, but neither song does anything new or really that interesting.
But my favorite song from Continuum is most definitely Bold As Love. This tune is actually a cover of a Jimi Hendrix song of the same name. Mayer and his band do a great job with this one. Jimi Hendrix songs are traditionally difficult to master, yet Mayer does justice to Hendrix’s original playing, while Mayer’s drummer Steve Jordan does an equally excellent job with Mitch Mitchell’s original rhythms.
The final three songs, Dreaming With A Broken Heart, In Repair and I’m Gonna Find Another You are a nice conclusion to this album. Mayer symbolically suggests the traditional message that “everything will be all right” through his upbeat melodies. The lyrics of these songs conclude this album exceptionally well, if not in ironic contrast to the melodies: “so go on baby/make your little getaway…I’m gonna find another you.”
But with Continuum, you won’t have to “find another,” because you have it all here: pop, rock, funk, blues and soul. I love this album: the lyrics, the melodies and the rhythms all come together masterfully. If you appreciate good music, buy, download, or borrow this album now.