Review Summary: Yeah, it's John Mayer. Now put aside your prejudices and listen to this beast. Continuum is pretty much ear sex.
Blues and pop-rock have never really been my musical forte. I’ve always thought that blues, while obviously requiring a great amount of talent, was sort of boring and uninteresting, coupled with the fact that most blues lyricists really have nothing to relate to a teenager such as myself. Pop-rock has never really held a tremendous amount of appeal either. Sure, I always enjoyed Matchbox 20, but really, that was about as much as I enjoyed the genre as a whole. It just struck me as fairly uninventive and the kind of music that should be the soundtrack to a failing marriage. However, upon the urging of a good friend of mine, I decided to give John Mayer’s latest effort, Continuum
a listen and what I discovered was a stellar effort by a talented musician and songwriter that even I could enjoy.
Mayer’s guitar playing was the key point of attraction in my case. Toted all over magazines such as Rolling Stone as “the next guitar hero”, his playing on the album certainly lives up to all of the hype. Rooted in blues for the most part, Mayer’s solos are always well constructed and seem to fit the song perfectly, such as the liquidly minimalist lead in the album’s highlight, Gravity
. Also notable is the Jimmy Hendrix cover of Bold As Love
, which Mayer nails perfectly with the punchy and energetic swagger of the original. Even when Mayer isn’t soloing though, his rhythm work is nearly as impressive as the solos Continuum
has to offer. The Heart of Life
offers a beautiful and hypnotic guitar line anchoring the song down where the percussion would usually sit, while on the other end of the spectrum, Waiting on the World to Change
offers a jaunty and vibrant rhythm, making it the most upbeat song on the album.
However, Mayer’s superb fretwork is not the only appeal here; Mayer is also a pop musician, and as such, has the knack for writing stellar pop songs. Nearly every song incorporates a killer hook that you will be repeating over and over in your head long after the record is over. A prime example of Mayer’s superb lyricism and song writing abilities is evident in Stop This Train
: “Singing stop this train/I want to get out and go home again/I can't take this speed it's moving in/I know I can/Cause now I see I'll never stop this train”. It is lines like this that drive Continuum
and make it one of the most instantly memorable albums I have had the pleasure of listening to recently.
But even then, guitar work and memorable songwriting can’t carry and entire album all on their own; Mayer’s voice is something spectacular to behold as well. While being slightly gravelly at points, it is very easily the most enjoyable aspect of the album. Mayer has a very unique tone, remaining as smooth as most pop artists with that extra grit that sets him far beyond any comparisons. Dave Matthews is about the closest one can come, but still, the comparison really doesn’t do Mayer’s silky delivery justice.
is nearly flawless. It succeeds on many levels where his previous efforts faltered, incorporating an even amount of blues and pop influence to make one of the most easily enjoyable albums I’ve listened to in my reviewing career. While the album is almost perfect and there is really no bad song, at times Mayer’s guitar theatrics can wear a little thin and some of the songs may blend together and pass by without a trace. Although it is a fairly rare occurrence, it does keep it back from classic status. However, Continuum
is still a fantastic listen, and probably my surprise favorite of last year discounting Underoath’s latest. Anyone who truly enjoys music and approaches this with an open mind should find a very rewarding listen contained within.
Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
The Heart of Life
I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You)