1 lb Post ’77 Clapton
5 cups Dead & Company experience
3 pinches Montana’s big blue sky
2 Teaspoons R&B influences
10 of John Mayer’s fingers
These are the ingredients to one of 2017’s most sublime albums, John Mayer’s The Search for Everything. Bake this together and we have some of the best John Mayer since Continuum and a cake metaphor of debatable quality.
From the twinkling, “ancient Japanese R&B” cut that is “Still Feel Like Your Man” to the rolling guitar on “Roll it on Home” and most of the little gaps between, Mayer flavors the dubious cake that is The Search with some solid guitar licks.
Here’s the first line I wrote about this: “it’s all super flowy and super sweet and oh my god I feel like it’s 2006 all over again. He’s like a happy Clapton.” I’ll try to dissect the album more, but damn if my first impressions of the dubious quality cake metaphor stayed true.
The guitar work and production flourishes consistently refresh on point and Mayer impresses by displaying a gentle touch on this strawberry rhubarb of an album. I mean damn, the production on “Still Feel Like Your Man” and “Emoji of a Wave” straight twinkles, the guitars on “Love on the Weekend” cascade chord by chord while brass begs and strings swoon on “Rosie.”
Even his voiced has matured well—cooks said that sugar would go bad ages ago, but surprise, surprise, it’s still just as sweet.
As for happy Clapton, well, Mayer admits, the latter half of The Search takes inspiration from Slowhand and Backless era Clapton.
But, that does not leave this cake-like album metaphor without severe culinary construction issues. His work away from the frets can sprawl on songs like “Emoji of a Wave” and “Never on the Day You Leave” where the piano and vocals cannot substitute for Mayer’s touch.
This is no truer than with “Changing.” Tormenting musical taste buds for much longer than ever should be tolerated to, Mayer’s guitar playing still nearly saves it. So too “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me” lulls blandly on my pallet and so too “Moving On and Getting Over” can’t move on or get over the taste of itself and just end.
And for the last pinch of salt, “Theme” is pointless—awkward track listing killed a subtle tune with possible leitmotif opportunities. But it’s not that the cake is a shit cheesecake, I just doubt the cook. Because of two questions:
- “Can John Mayer honestly make another thoroughly good lemon meringue?
- “If John Mayer makes a good lemon meringue, does that mean he can make a good album?”
Both have me turning and tossing for exactly zero nights. But, I was possessed by a curiosity of this years’ Mayer. And he’s not lacking for confidence after hopping off the train of his spirit quest into Montana and Deadhead country and conjuring a quaint quiche in album form.
Listening to an older John Mayer is thrilling—a chance to witness a guitarist’s interests lead them through a musical journey. Even Clapton went pop at least once. There’s no Mayer the crazy experimental guitarist, but there is Mayer the studio guitarist and Mayer the live guitarist. Mayer in the kitchen versus Mayer on television.
And on The Search listeners receive an update on the escapades of both.
It doesn’t make this his greatest cake (er, album) but it does it make an excellent companion piece quiche, fitting perfectly between the banana pancakes of Jack Johnson’s In Between Dreams and the peaches and cream of Eric Clapton’s Slowhand.
If anything, that’s just where my copy is sitting in my kitchen. And if anything, it’s way better than my flailing cake metaphor attempts.
The Search for Everything by John Mayer
- “Still Feel Like Your Man”
- “Emoji of a Wave”
- “Love on the Weekend”
- “In the Blood”
- “Theme from ‘The Search for Everything'”
- “Moving On and Getting Over”
- “Never on the DAy You Leave”
- “Roll it on Home”
- “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me”