Ahead of the release of The Search for Everything, John Mayer treated fans to 8 tracks from the record spread over two EPs; the first in January and the second in February. Lead single Love on the Weekend was released in November last year, so it’s been a fair wait for the final album to arrive. The Search for Everything is the follow-up to 2013’s Paradise Valley, which explored Americana and country influences.
On The Search for Everything, there’s a feeling that Mayer is attempting to recapture the sound that make him a household name on his first two albums – 2001’s Room for Squares and 2003’s Heavier Things. For some reason, Mayer has been treated with contempt by the music industry in much the same way James Blunt has here in the UK. Apparently being an epic guitarist, a gifted songwriter and a distinctive vocalist leaves you open for ridicule. The association with Taylor Swift and Katy Perry likely did little to help his credibility in the snobbier of music circles.
The soulful Still Feel Like Your Man, which has possibly one of the bizarrest music videos I’ve ever seen, opens the album. The theme of heartbreak is evident from the outset and it’s one that permeates through the album. The naffly titled Emoji of a Wave follows and I can’t help but think the title detracts from the song. You never actually hear Mayer say ‘emoji’ and for that I’m thankful as the word has no place in a song. The gentle stripped-down ditty is one of the rawest moments on the album.
For the most part The Search for Everything keeps things lowkey. The tempo is distinctly mid and Mayer injects plenty of pop-soul into the mix. Lead single Love on the Weekend is one of the strongest here and it gets better with every listen. Mayer’s music has often been a slow burn and that’s definitely the case here. Each song takes a little while to unpack and truly appreciate. In the Blood is a deceptively perky song that actually deals with self-doubt and fear. The lyrics are pretty heartbreaking and they show the vulnerable side of Mayer.
Moving On and Getting Over borrows a little laidback soul from Bruno Mars as Mayer reaches for his falsetto over stirring guitar rhythms and layered vocals. Piano ballad Never on the Day You Leave puts the guitar to one side for a change of pace and sound. Dealing with a lover leaving you, the song is destined to soundtrack the breakups of couples all over the world. Roll it on Home takes a bit more of the country influence evident on Mayer’s last two albums and it’s a welcome change in sound near the end of the record.
The Search for Everything ends on a weepy note with You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me. The ballad brings to a close an album that is rife with hurt following a painful breakup.
Mayer wears his heart on his sleeve on The Search for Everything, which will likely provide further ammunition for his detractors. I’ve been a big fan of Mayer for a long time and there’s plenty to enjoy here, even if it doesn’t stack up to some of his earlier work. Hopefully he’ll get a little lighter on his next record and there’ll be a slightly more upbeat feel.
Track Listing: 1. Still Feel Like Your Man 2. Emoji of a Wave 3. Helpless 4. Love on the Weekend 5. In the Blood 6. Changing 7. Theme from The Search for Everything 8. Moving On and Getting Over 9. Never on the Day You Leave 10. Rosie 11. Roll it on Home 12. You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me Record Label: Columbia Release Date: 14th April 2017