Yes, I enjoy some John Mayer. He blew me away with his six-string skills during a surprise appearance at the 2005 Jammy Awards (which I attended). A noted disciple of Lifetime Achievement winner Buddy Guy, Mayer added vocals and traded licks with the legend on "Hoochie Coochie Man" - Phil Lesh and ?uestlove provided the back beat on an amazing awards jam segment.
Technically, his guitar skills are top notch. Creatively he can keep you on the edge during a live show with his emphatic and purposeful solos. Those facts are hard to argue against. Where Mayer takes most of his flack is in his past songwriting catalog. Can you hold against him the fact "Your Body Is A Wonderland" is a sappy, sentimental pop track that dominated the airwaves back in 2002? Some say yes, I say no (full disclosure: *looks both ways* I like the song).
Once you move past the message in the song, you find intelligent and well crafted lyrics. As a man comfortable with his sensitive nature I can accept the song for what it is and enjoy its over the top lovey-dovey-ness. That song has dropped just as many panties as many Barry White songs have....but back to the show on Wednesday.
Having just released a new album - Continuum - Mayer sold out Webster Hall to promote the gig as well as record it for a future DVD release (TBD). I missed the first 20-25 minutes but was able to get inside in time to catch an excellent version of "Clarity". Mayer showcased his new single "Waiting On The World To Change" - an upbeat R&Bish smile maker - that was well received by the audience. The gorgeous "Daughters" was played during his encore. I seriously want to get married and have a little girl just so I can play this song for her (told you I was a sensitive one!).
Continuum is Mayer's third album and the first he produced himself. Amrit Stereogum sums up Mayer's new album quite effectively:
...we're seeing brilliant glimpses at what J. May could do best: meld a strong pop sensibility to his burgeoning blues and bring the smoky sounds of Stevie Ray to the people. Sure, the record has that too slick sheen one expects from a major label adult alternative release, but John marries R&B and lots of licks to his hooks. It all makes for a record that's … really good.
I highly concur with the above. Mayer-haters should at least take a chance and listen to his cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Axis: Bold As Love" from Continuum.
Peep this JM cover of Jimi's "Wind Cries Mary", performed 12.28.2004 at Webster Hall:
Stereogum has an mp3 of "Gravity" available here
I missed the opening act Mat Kearney (but saw him last February and liked it alot)