John Mayer
Continuum


4.5
superb

Review

by Alex Silveri EMERITUS
September 12th, 2006 | 167 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


John Mayer is the best damn guitarist in mainstream music today.

Forget Dave Matthews, forget Ben Harper, forget all of those down to earth looking fellows that stand there looking cool with their acoustic guitars slung around their shoulders, singing and strumming their dry chords, hearts on sleeves and gentle smiles. If there’s that one song, the one that plays in your head as you stroll down your moonlit seaside on the after after-dinner date with that girl of your dreams, holding hands, with the glint of flirtatious laughter in the eyes of lovers, so often captured in the magic of cinema, it was John Mayer that wrote it. He captures too, the moment of being pushed in that open sea by that very girl, then coming out again, only to have a feeling of knowing that in the end, it’s gonna be… all good. It’s a feeling that so many, so very many have tried to achieve, and only so very few have ever actually pulled off – it’s finesse, subtlety and a breath of chillax all rolled into a single album.

It wasn’t always like this. Mayer’s first album, Room for Squares, was a much rawer but more restrained gift to music. It was this ball of bumbling energy trapped in the smooth flowing, pretty boy aesthetic of Mayer, reaching out to see what exactly he would find. While it’s sights were never fixed, what it did find was a throve of screaming girls in love with the beauty of simple and sentimental music and guys trying to tell those girls what a boring voice he had and how much of a crap guitarist he was - until of course, they tried playing Neon, and promptly shat themselves. The brilliant Squares was followed up by the rather forgettable Heavier Things, which was about as heavy as Tom Delonge’s Angles and Airwaves was ‘revolutionary’ (i.e. not at all). All throughout this period of course, were the comments here and there that Mayer was an ‘amazing blues guitarist, if only he would actually show it!’. So he did. In 2005 he released Try!, a live blues album under the name the John Mayer Trio, featuring the amazing musicians Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino. It was an hour of ripping blues and funky grooves, throwing away the cloak of the pop orientated, boring ‘ol Johnny boy. The aforementioned guys, still cleaning their pants, took a 180 and went about telling everyone how they just ‘knew he had it in him!’ and went away feeling even worse than they already did.

The aptly titled Continuum is just as it sounds, an album back on track after a brush with the blues. Mayer announced before the last song of the last show of the trio that “…I’m John Mayer, and for a few more minutes, we are the John Mayer Trio”, setting the tone of what was to come – a return to the dusty drawing board of Squares and Heavier Things. Experience however, is not something that gives up on you so easily. Continuum, while living up to its name, is an amalgamation of the older, laid back Mayer and the groovin’ blues shred of the Trio, and the result is nothing short of spectacular, bringing the best of both worlds into a beautiful album that many have been waiting him to finally produce. While to some, Mayer may have lost the charm he had on Squares with such songs like No Such Thing (Who can forget the lyrics “I wanna run though the halls of my high school, I wanna scream at the top of my lungs!”) and Your Body is a Wonderland, Continuum has got it’s own parallel grace that gives it it’s own favour, which as the final product demonstrates, is a good thing. Songs here no longer blend into each other, playing like one long track - each one clearly haven been written as a separate entity, fixing a problem that was a slight bother on his previous records.

The heavier blues influence in his work is obvious just by looking at the track listing itself. It contains two songs from Try!, Gravity and Vultures (both of which were rerecorded for the album), as well as the Hendrix classic Bold As Love, which not only fits perfectly on a record such as this, but is played true to it’s roots, not sacrificing any of the magic of the original. Mayer also writes of Gravity: “"I wrote 'Gravity' last summer, and it changed everything… for the first time, holding back - then it was a whole new game. That might be the most important song I ever wrote.” Not only that, but it’s a hell of a catchy tune too. What Mayer says about ‘holding back’ is reflected very well on the album too - there’s nothing pretentious about any of the songs, everything just seems to ‘fit’, right in place: the solos are tastefully done and don’t go on for any longer than they need to, and there’s an incredible interweaving of guitar playing and vocals, neither of which detract from the other. If anything, this is his most minimalist album yet, with songs like The Heart of Life and Dreaming With a Broken Heart being carried along by simple, but remarkably effective hooks. Lyrically, Mayer has always been one for simple and direct, demonstrated neatly in Slow Dancing In a Burning Room:

I was the one you always dreamed of
you were the one I tried to draw
how dare you say it's nothin’ to me
baby, you're the only light I ever saw

It’s hardly Shakespeare, but quite frankly, it doesn’t matter – the chicks go wild for it. While most of the album is centered around broad themes like life and growing up, the first single from the album, Waiting on the World to Change, is a call for social awareness, and also manages to showcase the soul and R&B influences that Mayer has dabbled in, earning him praise from artists like Kanye West and Jay-Z. Mayer’s broad range of songwriting is reflected in the folksy melody of The Heart of Life. The first time I heard it, I could have sworn I had heard it before – not because it was generic, but rather, because it seemed like such a perfect song, which should have already been written by someone, somewhere. But no, it was a Mayer original. Two other standout tracks are the obligatory ‘missing-love’ songs, mentioned before – Slow Dancing in a Burning Room and Dreaming with a Broken Heart. The sort of tunes which you lie in bed, listening to as the rain beats outside the window – absolutely stellar. It’s not all gloom and doom though, with tracks like Belief, I Don’t Trust Myself (with Loving You) and Stop This Train, providing the perfect counterweights to the breakup songs.

"I knew I had bought the time to learn everything I needed before I started this one... This is the first endeavor in my entire life, music or otherwise, that I did not cop out for a second on."

-John Mayer

It’s true; this is, by the standards of everything else Mayer has done, his strongest album yet. That isn’t to say it doesn’t have its flaws however. Because of the individual nature of each of the songs, Continuum has a lack of cohesion as a ‘record’, feeling more like bunch of really well written songs thrown in together because they all sounded awesome and would be cool to have on a single album. And then of course, there Mayer’s voice, which, while I find goes really well with the music, some people just can’t seem to stand, and I can see where they come from as well as some borderline boring tracks like In Repair and I'm Gonna Find Another You. Those points aside however, Continuum is one hellava pop record, from one hellava guitarist, continuing the pop-revival of last few years, bringing talent and beauty to a scene that was once dominated by synths and generic songwriting that looked set to destroy music forever. Keep Rockin' Mayer.

4.5/5



Recent reviews by this author
Finch (US) EpilogueThe Saddest Landscape You Will Not Survive
How to Dress Well Love RemainsLydia Assailants
Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse Dark Night of the SoulM.I.A. Maya
user ratings (704)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Alex Getter (5)
Got a brand new blues that I can't explain....

Adam Knott EMERITUS (5)
Despite its lack of concept, Continuum's honest, blues-pop evaluations of truth, belief, war and lov...

Joe Costa (4.5)
Yeah, it's John Mayer. Now put aside your prejudices and listen to this beast. Continuum is pretty...

liljigga (5)
"The Mayer" is in the building! Before you criticize, you make a better album....


Comments:Add a Comment 
StreetlightRock
Emeritus
September 12th 2006


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I was originally going to give this a 4, but this album really, really grew on me as I listed to it, so viola, a 4.5. Give us your opinions, anything =)

KoraX
September 12th 2006


161 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

John Mayer is indeed a great guitarist and probably a bit underrated. Thats probably because he's able to go from really good rock/blues with great guitar work to really bad pop, featuring some of the worse lyrics ive seen.
This apart, I saw a full live of him with his trio and it was a hell of an instrumental show.
I havnt listened to this whole album yet though.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
September 12th 2006


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Eeep, I can't wait till he visits Australia sometime.

Zesty Mordant
September 12th 2006


1196 Comments


I'm probably gonna pick this up today. I've never really been a big fan of his more adult-contemporary stuff, but I've heard good things about this. "Vultures" and "Gravity" are probably my favorite of of Try!, so it will be cool to hear the studio versions.
and great review. spot on about the bit about "Neon".

Jom
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2006


2682 Comments


Throughout this whole review I was going, "Hells, yes!"
Crazy good review, man. Nice job.

Royd Rage
September 12th 2006


419 Comments


i want this album... A LOT!

superfascist
September 12th 2006


118 Comments


From your review, this album sounds nothing short of amazing. It's ironic that just yesterday I was telling my friends that John Mayer is a really great blues guitarist, but they didn't believe me. Maybe this will change their minds.

Great, great review. I wish I could give it more pos votes. I was pretty much doing the same as Jom all the way throughout while reading too. This Message Edited On 09.12.06

stompybeardo
September 12th 2006


746 Comments


im gonna have to check this out

Patrick
September 12th 2006


1891 Comments


Good review. This man knows how to play guitar.

Oddsen
September 12th 2006


1127 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cool. Great review. I didn't like the single much, but johns always been a talented guy so i assume this is good.

incubotic
September 12th 2006


78 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

shit i didnt even know this had been released yet
EDIT- its not comming out in the uk for another month (. The song clips sound sic though, this will probably be the album of my winter.This Message Edited On 09.12.06

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
September 12th 2006


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the comments guys! =D

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2006


15740 Comments


I counter your opening statement with Jonny Greenwood.

Digging: Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

Shadows
Moderator
September 12th 2006


2530 Comments


Excellent work. I'll be getting this album very, very soon. I've been meaning to get more into John Mayer for sometime now. I'm sure no one around here equates me with pop rock, but I saw this guy play live on Jay Leno once, and the musician side of me was completely awestruck.

mx
Moderator
September 12th 2006


733 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Love this album so far, especially 'Belief'

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
September 13th 2006


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I counter your opening statement with Jonny Greenwood.


Oooh, thats a close one.

Not consistant enough.

The Jungler
September 13th 2006


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really want to listen to this. Everyone seems to like it and the first single is great.

LincM
September 13th 2006


8 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice review. A few spelling mistakes, though. (Bead should be Bed etc).

But you described the album in its principle very well.

I agree with all except the comment on \"I\'m gonna find another you\" being boring.

I suppose it could seem boring by just listening to the very start, but after getting into the song (in particular, when the drums and horns come in) it really opens up.

It reminds me of \"Turn Me On\" by norah Jones, except a great deal better written and musically brilliantly performed.

And, on JM&Co coming to Australia, go to Chugg Entertainment to see the concert details.

He's playing 1/11/06 at the Palais in Melbourne and 3/11/06 at the Enmore in Sydney.

Ticket\'s are ~$80 and go on sale friday next week (22/9/06).
Tata!

PS: To listen to a couple of track (if you don't want to go out and buy it yet) go to johnmayer.com and he's got a dedicated music player playing the first three tracks, and you can also watch the video.This Message Edited On 09.13.06

DamnChuckedHam
September 13th 2006


12 Comments


This album is amazing and this review was spot on.

LiveWire420
September 13th 2006


90 Comments


I don't like that he reused two songs, Gravity and Vultures, from the John Mayer Trio album. Other than that, great album.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy