John Mayer is one of those artists who is willing to ask the big questions. On his latest, Continuum, he tackles heavy issues such as belief, time, love and happiness; basically, he has made an album about life. Granted, it’s a pretty obnoxious and self-righteous goal, but Mayer pulls it off flawlessly.
On Continuum, Mayer exercises stern control and confidence in his music. He avoids burdening his songs with cumbersome melodies and bigheaded musical movements. On his third studio effort, Mayer finally sounds at peace with who he has become and the music that speaks for him.
The album cover alone, sporting only Continuum and ‘Music by John Mayer’ on a gray background, is enough to assure any listener that this man is all about the music and nothing else.
Likewise, there is no glitz and glamour on the album’s twelve tracks. They’re not bare, but the production is just subtle enough to remind you that music can be splendidly simple, when in the right hands.
The strongest, most assured tracks on the album are the ones that take time to grow on you. Songs like the eloquent “I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You),” “The Heart Of Life,” “In Repair” and the perfect “Stop This Train” are rhythmic and soulful, and at the same time, simple and genuine.
This is not a particularly catchy album. Although, that is not to say that all the pop has fizzled from Mayer, it’s unlikely an album of this maturity and grace will find its place in the hands of TRL fans.
It is abundantly clear on Continuum that Mayer has grown as an artist. As he tackles a Hendrix tune (“Bold as Love”), and adopts skilled musicians-bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Steve Jordan-to form the John Mayer Trio, Mayer has made it clear he is not looking at his past for answers; instead, he looks to his future for options.
After taking in Continuum, one of the strongest albums of 2006 thus far, it’ll be hard for anyone to discredit Mayer’s skill as a guitarist and songwriter.
Danny Gordon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.