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Y’all. I’ve loved me a good Johnny Mayer song since high school. Like, 2001 or something. I own all 5 of his solo studio records…

Room For Squares
Heavier Things
Battle Studies
Born and Raised

I even own a live record (Any Given Thursday). I was pretty excited he’s
come out with his 5th full length studio record. But I’m gonna have to be
totally honest. It’s my least favorite so far. Now I know this has something
to do with personal preference so I’ll rate this according to two

Subjective opinion : 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Objective opinion: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Standouts – “Something Like Olivia” This track stylistically reminds me of
the songs on his most recent record, Battle Studies. The bpm kicks up a few
notches and the lyrical hook is strong and catchy.

“Speak for Me” reminds me of that often introspective Mayer I enjoyed on
songs like “Stop this Train” (Continuum) and “Something’s Missing” (Heavier
Things). One thing you can’t accuse Mayer of is having a lack of
vulnerability in his songwriting. “Speak for Me” elicits sympathy as
he cries out for someone to echo his heart the right way. Can’t hate that.

Not so standouts- “Whiskey Whiskey Whiskey”. Holy word repetition batman. An
occasional repetitive theme never hurts (see his single – “Say”) but this
takes it to an annoying level that makes me question if he just ran out of
good ideas. Maybe this song was pushing up against his recording deadline?

“Love is a Verb” is too cliche for me. Sorry. In his defense, maybe he’s
seen that phrase printed on a decorative painting for your kitchen at the
Hobby Lobby. But for me, it’s overdone and unoriginal. I can’t get into that
song for the life of me. It feels preachy.

I actually really respect his creative process for this record. Mayer
traveled to Montana to get away from the temptations and craziness of city
life to write this. He’s talked about how deeply personal this record is for
him. I’m happy for him to have had that experience. But as a selfish
listener, I wish he’d have maybe traveled to Oregon instead. Better people
watching? Folk are eccentric in Portland y’all.

To buy or not to buy? Well, he’s got a strong James Taylor vibe on this one
and it may be right up your alley. But I’d recommend giving it a listen
through first online.

Happy listening!

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Shelby Rollins

Author Shelby Rollins

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