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John Mayer - Heavier Things Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 September 2003

John Mayer

Heavier Things
format: CD
label: Columbia Records
release year: 2003
performance: 6.5
sound 8
reviewed by: Jess Amen

ImageHaving been a fan of John Mayer’s last album, I was eagerly awaiting the release of the sequel. So eager I asked our Director of Content to make sure to get the album for review, three months ahead of time.

Mayer’s melodic guitar and inventive, sweet lyrics melted my sappy and music-loving heart, so I was anticipating much of the same this time around. But the smarter side of my brain should have reminded myself that once huge success is upon us, something is always lost from the original, pure, stripped and simple art form.

While all of my favorite elements of Mayer are still prominent in the second album, including thoughtful lyrics, sweet melodies and soothing guitar tones, I hear many new elements that do not please my ears. The addition of horns into the mix greatly disappointed me. The first track on the album, “Clarity,” is a great song. It starts out with a simple piano part and then the horns come in and ruin it. Another song I like is the sweetest song on the album, “Come Back To Bed,” about a couple fighting; he apologizes and begs her to come back to bed because it’s too cold. “You can be mad in the morning/ I’ll take back what I said/Just don’t leave me along here/It’s cold, baby, come back to bed.” How could you not fall for these lyrics? But again, it’s ruined with the addition of cheesy alternating horn riffs.

In addition to the nauseating horn parts, about half of the tracks have too much guitar, including the single “Bigger Than My Body.” On my first listening of the album, it occurred to me that I didn’t notice a single lyric. And after having loved the first album so much because of the lyrics, I wondered what was pulling my attention away from them. I later came to realize it was the addition of the horns, extra guitars and effects that were absent on the last album.

Call me a music snob. Most people wouldn’t think twice about the things that bother me on this album. But I only want the raw John Mayer, soothing vocal tone, sweet lyrics and simple but melodic guitar.

The album is worth buying. As a package, it offers 10 quality songs with about half of them being really good and the other half decent. It’s a different listening experience than his first album, but still fun and all of the good parts of Mayer and the album definitely stand out more then the negative parts. I hope he continues to put out albums, but steers away from the overproduction that can happen when success allows for a huge recording budget!

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