People have been hating on Mayer in recent months. Including me. But let's take a step back and think about what we are really doing when we criticize his work: we are assessing it based on what he has already released and what we've come to expect and like—a poppy, rock sound with good hooks, but most importantly, solid lyrics from the heart. Nothing too witty, just true.
Musically, Paradise Valley must be judged on its own merit. It's different—as different as Born and Raised. Stylistically, I'd call it easy listening. Closer to Rod Stewart than Ed Sheeran. It's not my first choice in style, but I could see myself chilling to this record, if the mood warranted it.
Lyrically, on first listen, I dare day this is a return to the thoughtful Mayer we all once loved. No repeating a single phrase for an entire chorus. He sounds genuine again. Not over-worked and striving to please.
When I listen to this, and John's last album, I can't help but think of the song Stop This Train and how it was really a foretelling of his emerging sound.
I suspect I'll be streaming this album a lot when it drops. Thank you, Mr. Mayer, for coming back to us, even if your label's marketing department failed you on designing your album cover.
Stream Paradise Valley for free this week on iTunes: