Finally, John Mayer has realized that he has the potential to utilize his great talents even moreso than he has been. Sure, such a potent Grammy winning number as "Daughters" is a song that might never be forgotten in music history, but CONTINUUM I believe maybe the truest and quite possible the first TRUE John Mayer album that we've heard. The material here as well as the overall sound and timbre easily trumps a majority of Mayer's earlier and previously best material. I am glad to see the virtuostic Mayer (where his guitar chops are concerned) actually embrace the blues-side of rock and venture out in a direction that showcases that bluesy-soulful influence. If nothing else, Mayer's CONTINUUM is easily Mayer's most soulful LP.
The album opens up with the simple enough, but brilliantly simple "Waiting For The World To Change". Unfortunate for the PROMO single is that radio didn't give it the respect that it should've. It is a very nice track and it is one that is tuneful enough that it sticks when you listen to it. What is most admirable and loveable is the soulfulness that pours from this track, almost a newfound soulfulness or a complete rejuvenation of Mayer that ditches "Clarity" or "Bigger Than My Body" for Hendrix, Buddy Guy, B.B. King influenced blues rock.
"I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)" is a second consistent number, keeping up the idea of minimalist soulful arrangements coupled with Mayer's awesome, virtuostic guitar playing. Something else key here is that Mayer's vocals sound as mature as ever, not to say that he didn't on HEAVIER THINGS (a very good album, not knocking it), but it is a new found maturity, which was foreshadowed by the TRY! which was a project featuring Mayer's newly formed trio, who are featured on CONTINUUM as well.
"Belief" is yet another strong track. What makes it so cool besides it's driving soulful-rhythmic feel is the booming bass line that is so often "underwhelmed" in adult-alternative music. Here, Mayer has the bass line turned up with a "booming" sound that is perfect for this track. What may even make Mayer's vocal performance stronger here is his subtlety and his use of instrumental breaks in between the verse and the chorus as well as in between parts of the verse.
"Gravity" sounds like it should be featured on say an Anthony Hamilton album or a B.B. King album. The opening guitar solo in the 6 feel is just immaculate. This is yet another 5 star number of 2006, perhaps one of the most touching tracks here. The organ is subtle in the background, but it serves its purpose ten-fold. The songwriting here is as it has been through the entirety of the album-- way above par and above the par that great songwriter Mayer has previously set for himself in the past.
"The Heart Of Life" speeds the tempo back up again after the chilling "Gravity". This track spans more than adult-alternative, and is a track that would sound nearly equally at home on say a Sufjan Stevens album or a country-rock folk album. The guitar sounds great here and yet again John Mayer doesn't disappoint, even if you expect him to after 5 straight great, consistent numbers.
"Vultures" returns a rhythmic groove back to continnum. The sound here is a mix of a classic soul groove and an overall soulful blues-rock arragement. I personally love the sound of Mayer's vocals here as well as the semi-polytonal element of the rhythmic guitar coupled with Mayer's guitar improvisations and riffs. This track is a masterwork of "in the pocket" rhythm section playing and it is just another phenomenal track.
"Stop This Train" is in the same plane as "The Heart Of Life", only there is a slight bit more rhythmic support on the bottom with a very supportive bass line at the bottom of the arrangement. The songwriting here is again great and the chord progression is perfect. I love and "heart" the folk feel and the hearkening to go back to the simpler times of acoustic music and the earthy feel of tracks such as these.
"Slow Dancing In A Burning Room" is personally one of my very favorite tracks here. While all the tracks on this album are great, this one just has the soulfulness that I've been hoping that Mayer would always pull out. It was like I felt Mayer was so close with numbers such as "Daughters" and "Come Back To Bed", but the soufulness that oozes here is phenomenal. The guitar sound is great and reminds me of listening to Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Eric Clapton, B.B. or any of the great Blues artists.
While "Bold As Love" isn't my favorite, it is very ambitious that Mayer did a Hendrix cover. "Dreaming With A Broken Heart", starts out with an incredibly tender melodic piano line as well as somber lyrics and vocals by Mayer. This is among the tender and most plaintive sounding I've heard Mayer... another winning and enthralling vocal performance that starts out slowly and picks up more and more momentum as the song progresses. Another one of my favorites.
The introductory organ in "In Repair" again marks the maturity of Mayer with CONTINUUM. His sense of what "real music" should represent is made so clear on this album which deserves Grammy nominations! This time you just feel that Mayer got it right with the chilling melodic vocal lines, the exceptional guitar work coupled with everything else. He ends on a high note with "I'm Gonna Gind Another You", which begins with Mayer's soulful chops only accompanied by a bluesy electric guitar. Again, the feel is in six and gradually horns, drums, and organ are added to the mix. It is absolutely chilling and enthralling to listen to. This is the first Mayer album for me that I am able to listen to without stopping... it is THAT GOOD.
The production here is first rate as is both Mayer's songwriting and his vocals. The guitar playing was always there, but maybe because everything else is so great here it sounds that much better and that much stronger. For me, Mayer has made perhaps one of the VERY best albums of 2006. I would love, as I've already said, to see Mayer snatch Grammys for this wonderful and exciting music experience. 4.5 stars!!!
on September 13, 2006
I'm a Blues-first music fan, so John Mayer flew under my radar for a long while. I have a profound respect for guitarists, however, so when I saw Mayer play at the Crossroads Guitar Festival a couple years back, I had to see what he was all about. Didn't know what I'd find, but what I saw that day was a guy that was clearly among the best guitarists of his generation.
His first two albums showed me a young artist allowing his music to evolve organically. By no means perfect, but definitely worth the price of admission, and each effort is better than the last.
Recent collaborations with legends such as Herbie Hancock, B.B. King, Sly & The Family Stone, Eric Clapton, and Aaron Neville clearly demonstrate his respected acceptance by the heaviest hitters in the industry, inspiring him to shake off his pop-centric roots and release the blues/rock album Try! with Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino.
And now it's Continuum, released Tuesday as his third solo studio effort. I'm still getting a feel for it, but it's absolutely a big step forward from Heavier Things. This one is best described as a blues/soul album, and each track is a worthwhile effort. John Mayer has carved out a pretty unique sound for himself. While you'll hear lyrical a melodical nods to obvious influences from Marvin Gaye to Curtis Mayfield, the lyric/music combo solidifies Mayer as an artist that has finally found his identity and sound.
In the past, I've seen many references to John Mayer being a "Dave Matthews ripoff" and I can't express just how musically uneducated that opinion is. Aside from being pop singers with guitars in their hands, there's really no obvious connection between the two.
If I had to make an honest comparison, Sting is the first guy that comes to mind. Not because they sound alike, because they don't. Here you have two guys that broke out young and allowed the world and music around them to shape their art. There's no comparing Sting's work with The Police with his latest efforts. His evolution as an artist over the last 30 years is staggering in both style and substance.
I think John Mayer is on a similar path. He keeps changing it up, trying new things, working with artists from multiple genres and allowing it to affect his tastes and creative process. There's no ego about it. It's unpretentious. I never get the sense that he's trying to impress anyone. Instead, each new track builds on what came before, always with a new twist that I rarely expect and always appreciate.
As a Blues fan, it used to pain me a little to admit that I'm a big John Mayer fan. Not anymore, and Continuum is why. Check it out.
on September 14, 2006
What can I say that hasn't already been said? John Mayer has found his grove.
I love music, all kinds of music. From Jazz to rock, country to blues, there are players and writers that find the zone, their zone and you can tell. If you listen to Mayer's Heavier Things he was close, real close, but not until Continuum did he lock it in.
I started playing music in the early 60's, mostly rock and blues. I recorded a couple of albums and had the privilege of playing with some of the best musicians at the time; The Doors, Yard Birds, Hendrix, Airplane, Steve Miller, all players that found their style, their zone. John Mayer is there, I know, I've been there. With seasoning, he will simply further refine his talent into one of the best-of-the-best singers, song writers and guitar players to come along.
Check out the Vulture cut. When you feel everything is closing in, you feel the world is testing you, testing you, this song helps you to never give up hope. Listen to the words, feel his guitar and let his voice pierce your heart and soul. Damn he's good............
on September 14, 2006
During a time when NEW great music is few and far between and only a handful of bands are writing anything groundbreaking there in still John Mayer. I haven't heard a better album from start to finish in years. This album is his third and by far his best. You always hope the next album is as good as the last without being a copy of the last one. This is Continuum. Mayer is maturing in his music and Continuum could not be a better example of an artist pushing the envelope and setting the tone for NEW great music.
It's tough to find a bad song on here. "Stop this train" is fantastic and could be the next "Daughters". Continuum has Grammy writtin all over it. Do youself a favor and buy this album. If you are even a minor Mayer fan you will not be disappointed.
John Mayer couldn't have come to me with less of a negative vibe than he did when I was gifted this cd by a friend who is a huge fan. I have always liked her choices in music but she didn't help Mayer's cause by professing that she has often envisioned humping his leg during the many times she's seen him in concert. Her lust only underscored a common criticism of this artist; that he is more college girl heartthrob than cool guitar hero. It doesn't help that I'm beyond sick of seeing this guy's mug every time I stand on line in a supermarket and come face to face with the bathroom journals that scream at you from their perch next to the jerky and candy bars. On top of all of this, a particular interview I read revealed him to be arrogant and buying into his own hype. Therefore, I would have to say that I was not thinking much of what John Mayer's music would be like.
Well...I like it! John Mayer is not the second coming of anyone, he isn't the greatest guitarist I've ever heard, and he's exceedingly derivative in tone and vocals. It's easy to imagine the casual radio listener mistaking one of his songs for a handful of others who he sounds almost copyright-infringement like. But...it's good stuff nonetheless.
I like this one better than other cds I've subsequently listened to as there is a maturity and a bit less of the pop-idol-to-heartbroken-women vibe going on. "Belief," "Vultures," "Stop This Train," and "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" are all really nice songs full of sweet beats, his vibrato-laden Strat licks, and intelligent if, at times, a bit overly-earnest lyrics (but, hey, if it works for Don Henley...).
This is a cd that is easy to listen to, guitar-rich, and sometimes poignant and you rarely get all of those traits even from some of the many masters that Mayer seems to mimic. Ignore the E! gossip, his legion of lusty fans, the wannabe comparisons to Hendrix, Vaughn, et al, and even his unfortunate lack of humility and just give the music a chance. John Mayer's music is good stuff...but I still don't have the slightest interest in humping his leg.
on September 14, 2006
John Mayer has thrown his fans some curveballs in the last few years with his departure from the style of music (Room for Squares/Heavier Things)that earned him his status of a great pop/rock artist from the younger generation. His John Mayer Trio CD certainly had many fans scratching their heads woefully wondering what happened to their artist so known for ballads like "Body is a Wonderland" and "Daughters" and favorites like "Clarity" and "No Such Thing". While certainly more bluesy than previous solo John Mayer albums, Continuum is a return to the type of music that John shines in; good lyrics, great guitar playing, and solid melodies. Fans will not be disappointed with his latest offering.
on September 14, 2006
I've been a John Mayer fan since before he was famous, and this album is incredible. Lyrically and musically - it will sweep you away. I personally think it's much better than his second album, and on par (if not better) than his first. Most albums you have a few songs you love, and a few songs you skip; on this album you'll hang on every song, every word, every beautiful melody. Buy two - you'll want to give it to a friend, trust me!
on September 12, 2006
Sometimes, when you're trying to get where you're going, you have to shoot past that place so that when you split the difference, you're right where you want to be. Continuum - music by John Mayer, is the culmination of not just the past two years but of John's entire musical career, from coffeeshop troubadour to pop icon to blues guitar hero. His best work yet, Continuum fits perfectly between Room For Squares and Try! (his live "blues" trio release), and in fact some might say he needed the Trio to get where he is now - which is a really, really good place. This album has it all - great songwriting and deep lyrics that run the spectrum of insightful to downright painful, a funky groove more in tune with classic R&B than contemporary pop/rock, solid vocal melodies and serious, I mean "REAL DEAL" guitar tracking and solos on almost every singly song. And it has all of John - he really lays it all out musically and lyrically, he produced the album (with his colleague Steve Jordan) and even designed the cover art.
As for the songs themselves, every one is a gem, some even sparkling diamonds. He sets it all up by opening with "Waiting on the World to Change," which generates the albums funkiness right off the bat while simultaneously setting the psychosocial tone that pervades much of the album. And there's a real guitar solo - good sign of things to come. Next comes "I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)," a sexy jam that replaces the cheesy `bubble-gum tongue' metaphors with love's confusing and merciless nature (and hopefully will replace them on the radio waves as well). "Belief" reenters the political tone, criticizing all blind faith and describing its role in our war-ridden society - he even asks "What puts a hundred-thousand children in the sand? ... What puts the folded flag inside his mother's hand?" and answers, "Belief can. Belief can."
"Gravity" was given to us earlier on the Try! album, but this version is even more glorious. The clean electric guitar sound on this track is about as good as I've ever heard, no exaggeration (the guys at Fender and K&M/Two-Rock amps should be proud). The tune ends with a real soulful harmonic vocal build that can be described only by goosebumps. "The Heart of Life" is one of the simpler tunes on the album, providing a nice break between "Gravity" and "Vultures," while giving an emotional optimism that seems so honest as to convert even the biggest cynics. He sings "Pain throws your heart to the ground/Love turns the whole thing around/No it won't all go the way it should/But I know the heart of life is good."
"Vultures" is another revisited tune, very similar to the live version but with keys added and a "don't give up" fade-out that wraps the tune nicely in its studio package. "Stop This Train," in my opinion, is one of the best-written songs on the entire album. It revisits some of the emotions discussed earlier in "Gravity" and "The Heart of Life," which in itself makes the point that once we think we've tackled those big existential questions, they keep haunting us (as in the lyric "I just can't sleep on this tonight") in the ongoing aporia. It's also the best vocal track on the album, and ends with its own crescendo to final resolution (if there could be one given the subject matter). From existence we return to relationships with the best metaphor-title of them all, "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room." John paints a portrait of a couple fallen out of love having their last intimate moment, and does so perfectly. The guitar work is both beautiful and blistering (if you listen closely), and the vocal harmonies round it out in a sound so huge it's hard to believe only John, Steve, and Pino played on it.
To open the final 1/3rd of the album, John covers Jimi Hendrix's "Bold as Love." Because he can. And if any of you saw his sick Trio rendition on the Tsunami-Relief Telethon, you know why. The guitar work is naturally fantastic, but he really brings it home with the key change and closing chorus - overall very well done. He returns to Earth but not quite consciousness on "Dreaming With A Broken Heart," which has a simple, longing musical quality that matches the lyrics, and (like just about every other track) has a solid guitar solo and build of intensity that keeps the listener wishing there were more than two tracks left. "In Repair" is the barn-burner of this very, very mellow album. It keeps the emotions and candidness of the album to this point firmly in the forefront, and he saved the best guitar solo for last on this one. The album closes with a real soul-ballad, "I'm Gonna Find Another You," which comes full-circle to finish with the true-to-R&B feel that the album started with, and give a final cadence on this most-cohesive work.
One must remark upon the completeness of the work. The album is entirely complete in ways not so different from Pat Sounds, Born to Run, Sgt. Peppers and Dark Side of the Moon - from top to bottom, it's all there, it all works like it should, and there's nothing to be changed; in these ways Continuum really is the "perfect album" that John said it is. Which brings us to one more question: where does he go from here? He closes "In Repair" with the refrain "I'm in repair/I'm not together but I'm getting there." Is this just emotionally, or musically as well? I'm not going to worry about that now; it's time to listen to Continuum again and enjoy it until the next installment.
Final Thought: The packaging is as much of what completes the album as the music is. The cover art is simple and really classy, and the liner notes are filled with little gems, including original manuscript facsimiles showing his lyrical process, pictures of his rig and studio (the latter with a handwritten caption that says "*This is what my heart looks like."), and a page towards the back entitled "THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW," which is like a "Thank You" section but more meaningful and personal. Check it out - it shows what's wrong with this computerized world of unpackaged music.
on September 16, 2006
I have been a fan for John Mayer for several years now. I first heard of John on a radio program called Reg's Coffehouse on WRAX in Birmingham, AL they played John's music long before Room For Squares came out and I believe in the liner notes of Room For Squares there is a mention of the station manager/ programmer who gave him so much attention. Although, a fan of John I have never thought he had done a great album from start to finish. Continuum, though, has definitely made me a believer in John again he has definitely stepped up and made a great album. This album shows one thing and that is that he has matured and grown a lot musically in the past couple of years. There is not a weak song on here from start to finish. Standouts on the album really is all of the songs on the album. I have only one problem with the album and that is the cover of Jimi Hendrix's Bold As Love. John does a great job with the song and I do enjoy the song but the problem is the song to me sticks out like a sore thumb because all of the songs on the album fit really well together until you get to this song and it disrupts the mood of the album. The album would have been much better to have left that song of the album and put it out as a B-side or as a single by itself but not on the album. Okay that out of the way I do have some personal favorites off of the album and they are:
1. Slow Dancing In A Burning Room
2. Dreaming With A Broken Heart
3. In Repair
4. Stop This Train
5. The Heart Of Life
But as I said this album does not have a bad song on it including the song Bold As Love. If your a fan of John buy this album steal it if you must because this is John's finest hour in his career so far. If you want to hear a really soulful and melodic album this is a must buy for those as well. Waiting On The World To Change sounds like it could have been written in the '60's.
on July 17, 2013
Before this album i had never heard of John Mayer.. I was in Iraq working for KBR LOGCAP as an contractor and i heard Gravity come over the radio. The song had me hooked.. especially since i was going through a really difficult time in my life. That one song seemed to draw me in ... so i went and bought his album Continuum... and MAN!!! Once i heard that album.. it was like... i can't explain... like my eyes had been opened to looking at life, myself, my accomplishments and failures so different. So because of how good this album was, i went and bought all of his albums prior.. and OMG!! I was hooked!! I kid you not, for almost 3 years after that all i ever listened to was John Mayer, Before him all i listened to was rap music and r&b, but because of John and the substance of his music i haven't been back to rap or R&b too much since... He makes Life Music... and his optimism and honesty and gifted voice and guitar playing has been the soundtrack to my life. GREAT GREAT LIFE CHANGING ALBUM!! I LOVE YOU JOHN!@ NO HOMO!! lol