John Mayer is a product of the Internet download craze, even stating in live performances that he did not mind the downloading and burning of his second album, Room For Squares. Serious fans of his will always know three different versions of every song and compare and contrast the traits of the live and album versions of various tracks down to the drum lines. With visions of acoustic sugarplums and melodic fairies dancing in their heads, masses of fans will put the disc in their CD players and press play.
And a good amount of them will be pissed.
Falling under the blade of high production, Heavier Things, Mayer’s third album, feels more like the product of a jam band than the third album of a Grammy Award-winning artist. Finding commercial success in the bouncy singles like last year’s hit “No Such Thing,” the album feels like a pandering to the crowds who discovered John on MTV. His current single, “Bigger Than My Body,” rests on the voting block of TRL and fits nicely in the show’s programming – interpret that however you like.
Songs such as “Homelife” and the lyrically impressive “Split Screen Sadness” draw listeners in with their slow melodies and honesty, traits of some of Mayer’s earlier and best work. Truth be told, Heavier Things does have its moments of genuine musical excellence – it’s not that bad of an album. Yet, the depth of lyrics tends to come in short supply beyond a few songs.
The release of this album marks a departure from Mayer’s roots. On Heavier Things, Mayer threw out all of the knowledge he picked up playing the small cafes of Atlanta and picked up several musicians, summing up what this album represents – a departure from the realm of live gigs and a step into the studio. While Dave Matthews chose to explore what he sounds like on his newly released solo album, John is trying to attach the B to his name. In the past naysayers have called him John Matthews. With Heavier Things, Mayer corrects it with the debut of JMB.
Rating: 2 1/2 stars