Review Summary: A more varied addition in Wave Two of Mayer's 2017 series of releases
After a solid, yet slightly safe Wave One, John Mayer's 2017 episodic release has resumed with its second installment. The first wave featured some great and very easily digestible songs, with only one misstep out of the four tracks there, and whilst it didn't break any new ground, it left Mayer with a good basis on which to build.
Musically, Wave Two feels more diverse than Wave One immediately. First track "Still Feel Like Your Man" is a heavily funk inspired number that opens with a piano flourish and some layered vocals, and which continues the trend of Wave One's opener "Moving On And Getting Over" of not being overly flashy regarding Mayer's guitar work, yet impressing as a whole. This is contrasted by third track "Helpless", which is led by a simple yet brilliant guitar line and has flourishes all over it, even including two different solos which feel technical yet never out of place. The chorus to this track is also the catchiest moment on the EP, as Mayer sings "If I'm helpless tell me now, tell me now, and I'll stop trying to figure it out."
Wave Two also sees Mayer tap more into his later work which began on Born & Raised, with the closer "Roll It On Home" containing a heavy country vibe. A heavily American folk song that feels ripped straight from the Deep South, it creates more of scene lyrically than the rest of the EP, as Mayer mentions whiskey, bars and "Johnny on the jukebox", and it's undoubtedly a song that benefited from his forays into country on Paradise Valley.
Lyrically the EP doesn't move too far from the usual moving-on-from-relationships theme of his past work. The strangely named "Emoji of a Wave" is the second track and it's lyrics are in a slightly more desperate vein though, one perhaps not heard since "Slow Dancing In A Burning Room", as he sings "It breaks my heart, it's just a wave, and I know that when it comes I just hold on until it's gone."
Two waves in and it's apparent that this will be Mayer's most varied release yet, with the eight songs so far taking in every single aspect of his solo career to date. The second wave is certainly more varied, and it also doesn't contain a song as poor as Wave One's "Changing". What's more, whilst the almost episodic releasing of this record could be seen as a marketing gimmick (and it probably is), it's working so far, as I'm genuinely looking forward to that Friday late in each month where I get more music from John Mayer.
With the addition of these four songs, this is overall shaping up to be one of the most interesting releases in Mayer's career, and also his best for many years.