John Mayer: New Album, Old Vocal Issues and a Likeness to Snoopy's Cousin

John Mayer: New Album, Old Vocal Issues and a Likeness to Snoopy's Cousin

I’ve been vaguely following the vocal drama surrounding John Mayer, and I was mildly curious that he released a new album last week since his condition seems to have been plaguing him for many months.  I was only somewhat tempted to try his new album, “Born and Raised.”  Are those tepid enough words for you?

My first couple listens to “Born and Raised” validated my lack of excitement, but a funny thing happened once I kept listening: I liked the album more and more.  The songs don’t knock me over, but they grew on me with a kind of quiet unhurriedness.  I’ve heard “Born and Raised” described as southern rock, which is somewhat apt, although the ‘rock’ part might be a stretch.  Mostly the songs are sort of quiet and comfortable, not pop-y at all as some of his previous albums have been.

I also started hearing shades of other artists while I listened, among them The Allman Brothers, Mumford & Sons and even James Taylor.  Imagine my excitement to learn that The Allman Brothers actually contributed to this album!  I didn’t even know that when I was listening, I swear!  (I’m just proud of myself for recognizing the sound all by my big-girl self- I’m not an Allman Brothers groupie or anything)

If you’re looking for something dreary like “Gravity” or something sexy like “Your Body is a Wonderland,” you won’t find it on “Born and Raised.”  But if you want an album that you can play while you relax on the porch, that both you and your husband and possibly even your kids will enjoy (or at the very least won’t object to), you may find it here.  My litmus test is always whether I can play it in the kitchen while I’m cooking: yes (take note, Nicki, Em and Kid).

Now, the vocals.  What is wrong with this dude’s voice, and how was he able to record an album if his vocal chords are whacked?  I went straight to my usual source of quality information: Wikipedia.  This, however, glossed right over the vocal issues, so I had an inspiration straight from the heavens: go to the John Mayer website.  From there, I learned that he originally had problems with his voice in September, tragically causing him to cancel an appearance for iheartradio.

He must have recovered enough to finish his album and schedule a 2012 tour; however, I’m sorry to report that this excerpt appeared on his website on March 9, 2012:

During rehearsal on Tuesday, it came to mind that I should see my throat doctor because something didn’t feel/sound right. I went in for a visit on Wednesday and a scope of my vocal cords revealed that the granuloma has grown back where it had mostly healed. This is bad news. Because of this, I have no choice but to take an indefinite break from live performing. Though there will be a day when all of this will be behind me, it will sideline me for a longer period of time than I care to have you count down.

I want to explain this a bit more in depth than I have in the past, because I know there’s some confusion as to what this condition is; a granuloma forms and continues to snowball because it’s in a spot where the vocal cords hit together and there’s no way to really give it a chance to heal without a good stretch of time and some pretty intensive treatment. In short, it’s one giant pain in the ass.
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Somewhere in all of this is another surgery and a very long chemically-imposed period of silence…

So now you know.  Don’t be mad at John.  His heart is clearly broken that he can’t perform.  Anyway he has promised to use this period of silence to write new material.  If it’s anything like the material on “Born and Raised” I’m supportive of it.  Here is the video for the first song, “Shadow Days” (the beginning of which always sounds like the Bob Seger song “Main Street”).  The video is okay, although John reminds me of Snoopy’s Mexican cousin Spike in it.

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See for yourself- enjoy!

Filed under: Album Reviews

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