Veteran singer-songwriter John Mayer released studio album # 9 last weekend July 16. Supported by the singles “New Light”, “I Guess I Just Feel Like” and “Last Train Home”, “Sob Rock” has only 10 songs but spans 38 and a half minutes.
Mayer has come a long way in his 22-year career as a musician, since being lit on gas by Taylor Swift become a TikTok sensation to keep up with the times, but one thing has remained true: The guy dreads relationships. Going through this millennium without finding and keeping love would cost most people dearly, but Mayer apparently sees no danger in going his own way.
Considering this, the idea of the rock sob seems very much in its wheelhouse. It is therefore curious to know why the album begins with “Last Train Home”. While this is a good song, and certainly the biggest hit on the album, it doesn’t necessarily live up to the album’s title promise and actually seems out of place as it gives way. to “Shouldn’t Matter but It Does”. Songs like this, and later “I Guess I Just Feel Like,” set the tone for the album: understated songs with thoughtful production and lyrics that sometimes pop up as Mayer shows off his mature side.
There are also songs like “New Light” and “Why You No Love Me” that show her other side. The first, although serious, is a few words from an incel hymn and the second has a chorus that absolutely shouldn’t have been written by a 43-year-old man.
“Wild Blue” sneaks up on you. It comes in the middle of the album and is a good change of sound. The most unique track of the 10, it also has the best lyrics on the album, “and you’ll never know the unlikely beauty of letting you go”. It’s head and shoulders above the other songs on the album and gets better with each repeat listening.
“Shot in the Dark” is a heartbreaking song not because of its subject matter, but because it builds towards a perfect bridge and then refuses to cross it. “Til the Right One Comes” exposes the weakness of the album and all of a sudden it becomes hard to endure the mediocrity that is rampant here. Taken with “Carry Me Away” and “All I Want Is to Be With You”, the album limps to the end.
Once it’s over, it’s clear that something is missing and that’s a cornerstone. This latest album feels less like a cohesive piece of art and more like Mayer went to the studio whenever he felt like it, did some cool sounding songs and called it an album when he had had enough. . There isn’t a single song that sums up what this record is because it’s just a collection of songs scattered together somewhat at random.
Looks like Mayer knows he’s on the other side of the hill. When you’ve done “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room”, “Why Georgia”, “Daughters” and the list goes on, who cares if your new music doesn’t take it into account? You are playing with house money, so you don’t have to put in the effort you used to make.
“Sob Rock” is a testament to the struggles artists go through as they age. Like gravity, it’s an inescapable struggle to fight for the light of day against new acts and your own already existing discography. To his credit, he’s fought to delay things by releasing increasingly rare albums, but he may have already emptied the wishing well.
John Mayer could go the rest of his life without releasing more music, and his legacy would be one that 99.9% of artists can only aspire to. Unfortunately for his listeners, he seems to know.