album reviews

John Mayer
Sony (2006)

John Mayer's early hits played up nostalgia, including images of running through his high school ("No Such Thing") and the novelty of physical exploration ("Your Body Is a Wonderland"). On his latest studio album, "Continuum," Mayer's lyrics delve into more grown-up matters, with several tracks alluding to the futility of war -- including the album's first single, "Waiting on the World to Change." The song captures his disenchantment and recalls classic Van Morrison with its bright, subtly accented arrangement and the supple texture of Mayer's voice.

Mayer's heavy statements get buried beneath his perpetually laid-back sound, and, ultimately, "Continuum" falters in its production. Eight of the album's 12 tracks end by fading out, giving the songs a listless, rambling feel -- which is amplified by Mayer's murmured, repeating vocals. "I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)" begins as an earnest confession, but the final uninterested chant of the song's title sounds more dismissive than sincere. The soothing tune "The Heart of Life" disintegrates into a meandering guitar line, giving the otherwise standout track an unfinished feel.

That recurring incompleteness blurs "Continuum's" songs together, making his more adventurous sounds clash. The lively energy behind a cover of Hendrix's "Bold as Love" is tarnished by Mayer's Jimi-lite guitar solos, and the song's rock vigor sounds forced and out of place on an otherwise mellow album. Mayer may be striving for a more grown-up, adult-alternative sound but, ultimately, his bland songs fail to mature beyond lackluster college rock.

-Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 13 September 2006, Page C05
.: Continuum on