New Lease of Life

Music

Album: Paradise Valley

Arist: John Mayer

Music: Folk rock, Acoustic rock

Price: Rs 499 on Sony Music

rating: ***

Despite his notorious interview skills — remember the time when he used the N word and was slammed for being a racist — or his kiss-and-tell moments, everyone agrees that there's more to John Mayer than scandals or a curiously women-centric fan-base.

For Paradise Valley, we would advise you to close your eyes, erase your mind and forget about Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and the various distractions that surround the singer-guitarist-romantic.

As the title and the cover art indicate, Mayer is out in an open field, dressed in old-fashioned American garb as a friendly dog looks up at him — Paradise Valley is a clear reference to Mayer's Montana retreat, where he

recuperated after his throat surgery (for granulomas near his vocal cord). With his voice fully restored, Mayer seems to have put his tabloid-fixated life behind and moved onto a new phase. His sixth studio album is soft, rooted and autobiographical, lyrically restrained and an endearingly reflective affair. Musically, it's more accomplished and more approachable.

The opening track, Wildfire, is a cheesy but enjoyable track where Mayer yearns to grow old with his loved one. In Dear Marie, he acknowledges his fame with a measure of embarrassment in a musical letter to a former high school sweetheart; he even confesses to searching for her online. Paper Doll is a low-key (and obvious) response to Taylor Swift's "ode" to their relationship, Dear John. "You're like 22 girls in one," sings Mayer, in what we assume, is a repartee to Swift's 22. "And none of them know what they're running from/Was it just too far to fall," he croons. There's another rendition of Wildfire by vocalist Frank Ocean in which Mayer harmonises with the gentle piano and acoustic guitar in the background. Who You Love, featuring Katy Perry has the feel of an old soul classic. Perry, who sounds surprisingly real and rooted, compliments Mayer nicely in this duet.

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