Kimber: John Mayer’s first in series of EP releases falls short of expectations

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Maggie Kimber, Editor-in-chief

It’s no exaggeration when I say I can sing every word from every song on John Mayer’s Paradise Valley. It’s one of the approximately 12 CDs I own, and it is quite possibly my favorite. Mayer’s nostalgic recollections of past loves and summer days set to his smooth vocals and varied acoustic tracks were a major improvement from Born and Raised and Battle Studies, further establishing his personal sound.

The Search for Everything – Wave One is the first music Mayer has released in nearly four years and was hotly anticipated; however, I felt as though the EP was as the name suggests – a lackluster revisitation into a multitude of genres, triumphant at times, but ultimately falling short of my expectations.

Wave One is the first in a series of EPs to be released by the artist. Mayer has announced he will debut four songs per month for an undisclosed period of time.

The third of this first EP’s four songs, “Love On The Weekend,” was released in November of 2016 and elicited much excitement from Mayer’s sizable fan base. I tuned into the Facebook Live in which he discussed the single, his songwriting process, and answers to viewers’ questions.

The song played it safe, hardly straying from the style heard throughout Mayer’s earlier work (Battle Studies, in particular). I found the simple chord progression paired with lyrics that tell the story of excitement to see and spend time with a significant other at the end of a long week to be pretty predictable choices. The drum track, however, did not produce the same feel as a studio recording of an acoustic song.

“Changing” was my least favorite from the release; if “Love On The Weekend” is predictable, then “Changing” is downright expected. To be blunt, it sounds like a bonus track from Paradise Valley that was cut at the last minute. The lyrics are forgettable and the skillful combination of piano and guitar punctuated by the delayed introduction of drums is lost amid the redundant repetition of the word “changing.”

The first track on the EP is “Moving On and Getting Over,” and it draws from some of his earlier sound as well. It also shows the maturity in Mayer’s implementation of R&B influence. The song is comparable to music from Maroon 5’s Songs About Jane (2002), another of my favorite albums; both masterfully execute a timeless amalgam of that clean, signature guitar sound and groovy breakdowns.

The final track, and perhaps the best of the four, “You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me,” was everything I had been hoping from Mayer. It’s different – a piano ballad that contrasts to anything he has produced in years. The lyrics are thoughtful and show the softer side of his voice; whistling heard throughout is a unique touch.

While two of the four songs failed to make much of an impact in confluence with Mayer’s much awaited return, “Moving On and Getting Over” and “You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me” had enough redemptive qualities to partially win my favor. As a whole, the EP was not what I had hoped after four years of waiting for new music from one of my favorite artists. I plan to stay optimistic for the next few months, however, as new music is released.