John Mayer 'Paradise Valley' Review: Mayer Is True To Form With A Mix Of Personal Tracks And Graceful Melodies
John Mayer has made a name for himself in the music industry as one of the best male voices, as well as one of the most notorious womanizers. After two throat surgeries that threatened to jeopardize his career, Mayer is back with Paradise Valley, his sixth studio album. Lucky for us his voice is just as soothing and relaxing as it’s always been. Known for making songs that chronicle his private and personal journeys, Mayer continues that tradition with Paradise Valley — a reference to his time spent in Montana.
Mayer’s albums always get a pretty decent buzz, but all eyes are watching this album due partially to his throat surgeries, and partially to see whether or not this album fairs better than his last effort Born and Raised (2012). Not as bluesy as Continuum (2006) or a chart topper such as Heavier Things (2003), Paradise Valley is almost something different entirely. In his new album, Mayer sticks to Eric Clapton type melodies, with hints of folk and Americana influences. No matter if Mayer chooses to switch up musical styles, one thing is for sure—his albums always remain exceptionally consistent.
Paradise Valley has a total of 11 tracks, each slightly better than its predecessor, and each evoking a tranquility in its sound. The album’s first single “Paper Doll” is said to be a response to Taylor Swift’s “Dear John”, rumored to have been written after he broke her heart. What stands out about this song, besides its alleged message, is the strong songwriting, arguably the best on the album. “You’re like twenty-two girls in one/and none of them know what you’re running from/was it just too far to fall/for a paper doll.” The second single off the album is “Wildfire” a particularly catchy tune, with equally memorable lyrics to match.
“Dear Marie” is a slower, alluring tune that finds Mayer in top form despite the absence of a chorus. “Waitin’ On The Day” is one of my least favorite songs on the album, mostly because at over four minutes the song is incredibly dragged out and gets tiresome. “Call Me The Breeze” is a J.J Cale cover and right up Mayer’s alley, as he’s known for his blues-rock tunes. “I Will Be Found” is a pretty good song, but not a very memorable one. Mayer can be heard hitting some unusually low notes on the track, a sign that maybe his surgeries has altered his voice slightly.
“Who You Love” seems to be the most personal track on Paradise Valley. It’s a duet between Mayer and his on-again girlfriend Katy Perry. Reminiscent of earlier works in his career, this duet reminds listeners just why they love Mayer in the first place. A surprisingly great song, “Who You Love” translates the chemistry between Mayer and Perry fantastically.
Frank Ocean is featured on the “Wildfire” interlude, no doubt a reciprocated gesture from Mayer being a guest on Ocean’s Channel Orange. I thought I would love this song because I adore Ocean, but the song is out of place as its separate from the first Wildfire, and it must be said that if the song were left on the cutting room floor, it wouldn’t be missed. And the closing songs on Paradise Valley —“You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You, “Badge And Gun” and “On The Way Home” – show Mayer’s love for country and folk music, and all three have a very light feel to them.
Overall Mayer’s sixth album is a welcomed listen, and magnificent statement of his powerful voice. I will say that this album isn’t better than his previous albums, Heavier Things (2003) and Continuum (2006), but its great to see him experimenting a bit with his sound.