The screaming females that make up a sizeable portion of John Mayer's fan base may want to sit the next couple of plays out. Mayer has taken a detour from his "Your Body Is A Wonderland" pop stardom with a new stripped-down sound.
Jazz-trained Mayer celebrates his roots on TRY! with drummer Steve Jordan and bassist Pino Palladino. The result is the John Mayer Trio, a heavy blues and jam-based effort that leaves the casual listener asking, "Is this really John Mayer?" With covers of Jimi Hendrix's "Wait Until Tomorrow" and Ray Charles' "I Got A Woman," Mayer spreads his musical wings and shows his true musical talent creating much more than VH1 pop fodder.
The album starts with "Who Do You Think I Was?", a funky track that immediately sucks you in. Mayer questions his listener with lyrics like, "Am I the one who plays the quiet songs? Is he the one who turns the ladies on?" Mayer has quite the chops for the blues, and people ranging from his teen fans to old blues enthusiasts will appreciate this album.
The track "Good Love Is On The Way" brings it back down a notch, sounding less like cold steel and more like traditional John Mayer, but with a Stevie Ray Vaughn feel. The trio's rendition of "Wait Until Tomorrow" is blatantly funky. On this track, Mayer's guitar work shines through, presenting a gnarly sonic assault that instantly erases "Daughters" from mind.
The next two tracks, "Gravity" and "Vultures," are by far my favorites. They are soulful and funky songs, which showcase Mayer's signature songwriting. Further proving his musical genius, "Another Kind Of Green" evokes feelings you may not have realized you even had.
Two past recordings, "Something's Missing" and "Daughters," also appear on the album, albeit revamped with more soul and a smarter sound. "Daughters" eclipses the six-minute mark, with grooves and spontaneous jams along the way.
The final track, "Try," puts Mayer in a league of his own. This is the blues according to John, with no emphasis on what has to be or what can't be. He makes it his own and gets lost in it. It leaves you exhausted, but in a good way.
While TRY! is a more sophisticated effort, mass radio may not fully accept Mayer's blues-injected tracks. Most songs on the album range from five to seven minutes in length, another deterrent for the masses.
The whole album blows you away with an interesting mix of songs that musically arouse you and lyrically soothe you. If you're looking for something new, or already appreciate Mayer's songwriting and musicianship, then definitely give this album a try.
My only complaint is that there isn't more. A DVD companion would have been nice, but I will keep my fingers crossed that the live concert will eventually be released.
Adam Frazier drives an El Camino and sports a vicious mullet.