"The Search For Everything, Wave Two" by John Mayer
Album: The Search For Everything, Wave Two
Artist: John Mayer
Release Date: February 24, 2017
My Format: Apple Music
John Mayer ranks up with Coldplay, Death Cab For Cutie, and Jon Foreman in terms of new music anticipation for me. I've signed my approval of the music before I hear it. Maybe this compromises my opinion of the music (some may say I'm crippling my ability to point out flaws if there are flaws to be found), but I think we are all allowed a few artists like this. When Mayer announced new music for the first time since 2013, I was obviously excited...and then he announced he would release it in "waves" of four songs each month*.
"Wave One" of The Search For Everything was good. "Wave Two" is better. It addresses a fear I had that the John Mayer of Born And Raised and Paradise Valley would disappear for years or decades as he gravitated (pun intended) back to Continuum and John Mayer Trio. Don't get me wrong, I love both of those styles, I just grew attached to the perfect Americana sound of the most recent music. "Roll it on Home" shows he is able and willing to meld his music disciplines and cross-pollinate. "Helpless" is the rock music we haven't seen from him in almost a decade (and it reminds you what you've been missing). And "Still Feel Like Your Man" is the link to "Wave One" (specifically "Moving On and Getting Over") - it shows the unconcerned side of Mayer: serious music underneath a lighthearted, playful lyric ("I still keep your shampoo in my shower / In case you wanna wash your hair / And I know that you probably found yourself someone somewhere / But I do not really care")...somehow turning what should be a depressing ballad into a unaffected groove.
But my favorite is "Emoji of a Wave" despite the cringe-worthy name. The Rolling Stones analysis of the song confirmed the reasons I liked it as soon as I heard it. It reflects back on BAR and PV vibes as well, and carries the feeling of reflecting on life while watching the waves crash on the Pacific Coast. It features one of the Beach Boys, Al Jardine (and his son) on backing vocals to cement that vibe. To quote Mayer from that interview: "There are two levels to the song. One of them is the beautiful destination I go to whenever I hear it, which is Santa Barbara on a rainy, cold day. The other level is just about this part of life and love that my brain doesn't understand: wanting to act to resolve a situation but knowing there's no resolution."
I really like this new music. It is a tight and repeatable EP, well balanced, and nuanced. I can't wait for more if it sounds like this!
*I originally thought this meant 48 new songs as he said every month...but this tweet muddies that a bit. So, 14 songs total (we've heard 8 now) or 14 new songs in March to bring the total to 22? Neither of those numbers justify the "There were too many songs to ever get out the door at once" claim in my opinion.