John Mayer is a talented artist plagued by the celebrity of his love life. And often times the magnitude of the latter feels like it can cripple people’s ability to take him seriously as a recording artist.
For the most part, though, critics were generous on Paradise Valley, Mayer’s second post-throat-surgery-transformation LP, which may or may not be a forthright nod to his favorite territory on the lower portion of the female anatomy.
“...This chapter finds him in a relaxed, joyful frame of mind. And why not?” — Rolling Stone
“Musically, Mayer has seldom sounded more relaxed, and has rarely written guitar works as elastic and forgiving.” — Los Angeles Times
Speaking to singer-songwriter Mark Ballas recently, he spoke of Mayer in the highest regard, noting that restraint is one of his greatest attributes. “He [Mayer] is a phenomenal guitar player, but on the records he definitely pulls it back,” said Ballas. “And then when you see him at the the live show, it’s like, ‘Wow.’”
That control is present on Paradise Valley, particularly on tracks like “Waitin’ On the Day” and the supposed Taylor Swift-bashing single “Paper Doll,” where subtle electric guitar licks pepper the soundscape with brief but calculated goodness.
On top of a handful of lyrical themes that Mayer tackles, the album also boasts range, from highway twang to catchy radio ballads. It also adds features from Katy Perry and Frank Ocean, which perhaps take the two performs a nudge out of their comfort zones—to our delight, that is.
More importantly, this is an album you can crave after a first listen. Whether or not you feel comfortable doing so is up to you.