Paradise Valley is the latest album by John Mayer. Consisting of 11 songs in total, it is filled with a feeling of soft-hearted and tenderness with the lyrical approach of a first person point of view who is constantly looking over something that seems to be quite not there, whether it is something that has never been found before or something that got away as time passes him by. Musically, the tone of country and folk music is embedded heavily throughout this album with bluesy melody and great guitar filling throughout the songs.
The album starts with ‘Wildfire‘, an upbeat tune that tells a story how love could get bigger like the analogy of wildfire in the forest. The tune resemblances a joyful feeling of love as the couple enjoying the short summer that could make a lot of history or just what the whole year’s all about. It serves as a good opener as the hand clap section is something listeners can use to tap their foot on as the album starts.
Following that is ‘Dear Marie‘ in which the mood is brought down with the character of Marie introduced as a girl who knew Mayer way before he got into the spotlight. Lyrically, it’s quite a looking-back and introspective way of writing, in which Mayer does a lot as a lyricist. ‘Waiting on the day’ is a type of tune that sounds like it’s written out of the guitar’s rhythm throughout the song. Slightly unusual time signature is played in this tune, and Mayer’s sliding guitar melody just adds the folk atmosphere to its best.
‘Paper doll‘ is a soft tune that serves like a fresh wind in the hot sun. Lyrically, resemblance towards Taylor Swift‘s past relationship with Mayer is often discussed in the song. As Mayer puts it “You’re like 22 girls in one and none of them know what they’re running from” to the reference of Taylor Swift’s single entitled ‘22‘ and the lyrics from her other single ‘Dear John’ written “look back in regret how I ignored when they said, ‘Run as fast as you can'”.
The songs continue with the introspective journey as Mayer often does with his autobiographical-themed songs. His tune ‘Who you love‘ that features his current partner Kate Perry, serves as a third single of the album with getting into no 80 in Billboard top 100 on its releasing week at the end of December 2013. A gentle and breezy feeling is embedded to the tune with the lyrics lending towards the acceptance of oneself to fully love whoever that is truly important in one’s life; hence the lyrics “you love who you love, who you love.”
Mayer took an unusual step of getting Frank Ocean to sing a song that both produce entitled ‘Wildfire interlude‘. As a duo’s second song together, ‘Wildfire interlude’ adds to the album’s dynamic by having Ocean’s soulful vocal to this sweet tune with piano-dominated background. So gorgeous that a man might cry.
The two closing songs for the album are entitled ‘Badge and Gun‘ and ‘On the way home‘. ‘Badge and gun’ serves as the only full acoustic song in the album despite the fact the album is heavily influenced in acoustic guitar, and ‘On the way home’ just gives the right feeling to close the album by having Mayer’s exceptional guitar fill and unique approach to its rhythm with his acoustic guitar.
The blend of acoustic and electric guitar within this song is perfect with the addition of Mayer’s playing harmonica to end the song. Mayer shares one of his words mentioning how one’s life might be long lasted but very limited in many aspects than one could probably think of. Hence the lyrics “Life ain’t short but it sure is small, you get forever but nobody at all”
Paradise Valley is a great album of Mayer as his musical journey seems far from ending. His lyrically exploration towards finding inner-peace within himself, combined with his truly exceptional guitar playing and his ability to explore variety of musical genres have made him an exceptional musician in today’s time.
Writen by: Bimo Murti | Singer-songwriter of Lazy Saturday Project | EP debut is available here