Review: John Mayer – ‘Paradise Valley’

‘Paradise Valley’
Out Now

By Alle Royale

There are American artists, huge stars in the States, that, no matter what, seem like they are never going to appeal to the Europeans; the first example coming to mind is Dave Matthews, the second one is John Mayer. The young guitar slinger, pop chansonnier, Grammy winner, gossip columns favourite, one night could share the stage with B. B. King and the next one with The Rolling Stones, one day he could top the singles chart and another he could trade some jazz rock licks with fusion guitar pioneer John Scofield.

In spite of all this, and a bunch of pretty good albums, Europe is still tepid about him, and I don’t think that “Paradise Valley” is going to change his sorts. Not that this should bother John too much; I mean, his touch on the guitar has been praised by Mr. Slowhand himself, Eric Clapton, his voice is the whisper of the angels and his good looks assure him to have enough of a female fan base to fill arenas through the entire USA. Admired by artists and women, a win-win situation to which, as a cool bonus, we can add a girlfriend named Katy Perry, who even sings with him the romantic “Who You Love”, an up-to-date duet in the Johnny Cash-June Carter tradition.

“Paradise Valley” is a consistent effort, balanced between the previous “Born & Raised”, a wonderfully country blues affair, his most mature work to date, and the refined pop skills that gained him both critical and public successes in abundance.

His instrumental performance is outstanding, tasteful and well-measured, constantly underlining the vocal phrasing and twinkling like a star shower on our senses; it’s an understated musical universe, and is no coincidence that he decided to tribute JJ Cale, the king of understatement, recently passed away, with an affectionate cover of the classic “Call Me The Breeze”.

John Mayer’s musical journey has temporarily reached a quiet, green valley of excellence, where he wanders like a modern day troubadour and the wind softly blows through the strings of his acoustic guitar; we still don’t know where his path is leading him, but the day even the Europeans are going to notice him massively, it seems no longer a distant fantasy.

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One thought on “Review: John Mayer – ‘Paradise Valley’

  1. Met John Mayers ‘Gravity’ through an episode of House (those soundtracks are great teasers for new music!) and loved his music ever since (esp. Continuum).
    I am a tad disappointed that the most promising songtitel (You’re no one ’til someone lets you down) is SUCH a country cliché but I’m warming up to the rest. Good road trip music!

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