I listened to my first John Mayer album today. It is an interestingly titled collection called, Battle Studies. Now you might be asking yourself the same thing I have asked myself during the 5 times that I listened to the album in its entirety, what took you so long to join the party? Admittedly, my taste in music has always been eclectic. If I passed you on the street on any given day, you would be just as likely to hear LL’s Boomin’ System, as you are likely to hear Sinatra’s Summer Wind. The biggest change for me is that roughly 17 months ago I went from being a passive consume of music, to an active participant. The change, not coincidently, came about at the same time that I started taking guitar lessons. I started out with baby steps on a beautiful Alvarez, Acoustic-Electric, before running full speed towards an ESP electric. Both masterly crafted instruments in all of their left-handed glory.
Don’t get me wrong, I still listen to music for the pure unabashed joy; it’s just that now, the creation, expression, and performing of music allow me to connect with the music that I consume on a much deeper level.
Battle Studies in its simplest terms, is an album about love; love found, love lost, romantic love, passionate love, friendship love. From the opening track Heartbreak Warfare, through the final track, a final cover of The Boss’ I’m On Fire, John Mayer takes you on a journey through the ups and downs of love using his smooth as silk vocals and signature guitar licks. Thus far, the middle section of the album, which starts with the album first single, Who Says, and moves on to Perfectly Lonely, Assassin, Crossroads, War of My, and Edge of Desire standout as the albums highlights.
Now I admit that I am late to the John Mayer party and as such I can’t compare his latest creation to his past albums, but I am comfortable is saying the John is a confident musician that has grown well beyond the media labeled pop trappings of Room for Squares into a formidable rock and blues guitarist that is comfortable in his own skin. And after just one listen of his debut album, with standout tracks like Neon and City Love ,I wonder why anyone would have ever labeled him as a pop artist.
Whether a John Mayer neophyte, or card-carrying fan club member, Battle Studies is definitely worth the price of admission. Now if only I could master a couple of his deceptively simple yet layered and complex riffs.