Continuum by John Mayer
Say what you will about John Mayer and his off-stage escapades. The man is a very talented musician who's made plenty of great music. Besides, what famous musician hasn't had some sort of shady issues in his or her personal life?
I'll tell you straight up, if I was stuck on a dessert island with a record player and a short stack of albums, Continuum would make the cut. This has been a favorite for a long time and it still isn't stale.
Everyone already knows "Waitin' on the World to Change." Still a favorite of mine after all these years. Yes it has some political undertones, but still a well-written song that deserves a listen.
This record more than any other John has done features a handful of songs that deal with love (or lack thereof) with a twist. When it comes to songwriting, Mayer does something that I think is pretty rare. Instead of writing about love in general, he paints it in a different shade each time he sings about it. Seems very poetic (I promise I'm not a teenage girl). "I Don't Trust Myself with Loving You," "Dreamin' with a Broken Heart," and "I'm Gonna Find Another You," certainly fall into that category. If you've never heard this album, you'll get what I mean even if you don't listen to 'em in succession (they don't come in order). Similar sound, similar delivery, and similar writing.
Two of my favorites from this one are "Belief" and "In Repair." With regards to "Belief," the entire song is very fresh. Good playing, good harmony, and good subject material. This one continues with the borderline-apathetic vibe of "Waitin'" but I like it nonetheless. Check it out with a good pair of headphones. "In Repair" is another that's just cool. I think this one is largely under-appreciated. Some pretty introspective writing over a simple texture. What is creativity but the ability to take a complex idea and make it simple. Perfect example here.
Aside from the Mayer classics "Gravity" and "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" there's another standout on this one that also is pretty underplayed. He covers Hendrix' "Bold As Love" and frankly I think it's great. Sounds exactly like what I'd expect John Mayer covering a Hendrix tune would. He knows how much of an undertaking it is to try to replicate that song and doesn't mess with it. It's a great song from an incredible artist and other than a few liberties with guitar and drum licks, this one would make Jimi proud methinks.
So. If you've not heard Continuum, I highly recommend it. Since this album, Mayer has taken a detour from his blues-rock game with mixed results. This one definitely shows that John isn't all about writing cheesy love songs for the masses, but instead that he's interested in making quality music. Period.