Review Summary: The comforting sound of Mayer in humble form
Mr Mayer is a man of many phases. Over the course of four studio albums he has evolved from pop heart throb to blues man to adult contemporary artist. However on his 1999 debut EP, we are treated to Mayer: the singer songwriter. In this instance I am referring to the kind with substance, not the strummy, ooh, baby, baby kind.
Half minimalist Room for Squares demos, half first-hand loveliness, Inside Wants out makes for an interesting listen. To those who listened to the EP after devouring Room for Squares, I imagine the first four tracks seemed slightly empty, mainly due to the lack of electric guitar and Mayer’s slightly breathier vocals. However, on this occasion such ‘emptiness’ has the tendency to offer a humble quality to the songs. The idea of a young, relatively unknown Mayer, simply playing his songs in a no nonsense environment is quite endearing. Also, hearing the intro to ‘Neon’ in whichever set up, will always be captivating. The final four tracks can be listened to with ease as there is none of the ‘this doesn’t sound like the one on the album!’ mentality and with the exception of the strings and backing vocals on Comfortable; we’re left solely with Mayer and his intriguing yet unpretentious lyrics.
‘I just remembered that time at the market/ snuck up behind me and jumped on my shopping cart’, refers to the memory of a past love without the need for a ‘baby I miss you’, whilst ‘3:02, the space in this room has turned on me’, makes for a realistic portrayal of agoraphobia and insomnia. With the structure of each song both lyrically and musically, Mayer manages to capture the specific hues of moments of retrospect and bleakness in a unique yet comforting way. The few songs which sound ‘singer-songwriter-y’ manage to refrain from being a middle of the road cliché thanks to Mayer’s exceptional ability as a guitar player and his creative, matter of fact lyrics.
Inside Wants Out remains an important piece of work, mainly as an example of Mayer’s development. ‘Quiet’ in comparison to ‘Belief’, sound like two very different artists, each valid in their own way. So often today we are used to John Mayer as the ‘the guitarist’ or even ‘the douche bag’. Here all the animation and nonsense is stripped away and we are allowed to enjoy John Mayer as a prime singer-songwriter in all his glory.