2009 studio album from the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter. Since the release of his hit album, Room For Squares, in 2001, Mayer has progressed from a sensitive acoustic-based performer into a full-fledged paparazzi-baiti... more »ng superstar with acclaimed musical detours into Jazz, Blues and Folk. Battle Studies is yet another milestone for Mayer, containing some of his best work to date. Features the single 'Who Says'.« less
2009 studio album from the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter. Since the release of his hit album, Room For Squares, in 2001, Mayer has progressed from a sensitive acoustic-based performer into a full-fledged paparazzi-baiting superstar with acclaimed musical detours into Jazz, Blues and Folk. Battle Studies is yet another milestone for Mayer, containing some of his best work to date. Features the single 'Who Says'.
"John Mayer set the bar too high on the last album and falls short of his high standard on this one. A lot of his songs are good, but there's nothing here that has the punch of Continuum, which I believe is his finest work and an absolute masterpiece. On Continuum, he shows how fantastic his guitar skills are and brings his blues influence out in full force. On Battle Studies, he sinks backwards towards some of his older, less sophisticated works. After several listens, this album has grown on me, but it's only enjoyable, not fantastic."
Another Solid Release from a Vocally Refined Mayer
Jeff Loudon | Nashville, TN | 11/23/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"For anyone who happens to be on Twitter, John Mayer is a must follow (along with @MyLathamLife and @NewCDReviews). His incredible sense of humor and lack of inhibition is good for an almost guaranteed daily laugh. What's interesting is that his humor rarely carries over to his music and when it does, it's subtle. Perhaps it's the "Adult Contemporary" label he's given, or perhaps it's his desire to musically follow in the footsteps of his influences; Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, and Robert Johnson to name a few. Whatever it may be, John Mayer has been releasing mature, blues-based, increasingly guitar featured music since 1999 with almost always fantastic results.
For John Mayer fans, this album is a familiar continuation of the work he has released throughout the decade. Although different instruments are occasionally added to the mix and various styles and influences filter in throughout, the real feature remains his guitar. The first track, "Heartbreak Warfare" opens with strings fading in followed by delayed guitar reminiscent of U2's The Edge. While these sounds may be experimental for Mayer, they seem to set the mood for the remainder of the album. Following "Heartbreak Warfare" is "All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye," which has one of the most beautiful choruses Mayer has produced. My guess is he was listening to a great deal of Chicago as he wrote it.
Although the romantic Adult Contemporary themes prevail on the majority of the record, Mayer's sense of humor does gently poke through on the tracks "Half of My Heart" and "Who Says." On "Half of My Heart," Mayer shares the track with Taylor Swift and sings about loving someone while always looking for someone else. On "Who Says," easily one of the best, and most likely one of the most honest tracks of the album, Mayer gives a little insight to his opinion of marijuana use. The brilliant line "I don't remember you looking any better, but then again I don't remember you" repeats throughout and at the very least produces a smile every time it's heard.
For Battle Studies, the concentration is clearly on tone. There is no greater example of this than on his cover of Robert Johnson's "Crossroads." For any blues guitarist, "Crossroads" is almost a required cover, a Fender player's coming of age celebration. John Mayer's cover is significantly slower than Eric Clapton's famous rendition of the track with Cream and resembles Robert Randolph's funk infused style more than the original Robert Johnson recording, but when Mayer opts to solo, the notes are crisp, clear, and distinctly his own. Instead of showing off with notes, he maintains the respect of his followers with the sound he produces from his instrument. David Gilmour of Pink Floyd was famous for the same.
Battle Studies may not be John Mayer's greatest achievement, but it's a worthy addition to his already impressive repertoire. With many of his idols still producing music today, it's safe to say we can expect even more great things from this phenomenal guitarist and songwriter for many years to come.
Similar Artists: Eric Clapton, B.B. King
Track Suggestion: Who Says"
Highly disappointing...from a huge fan
EBHP | VALENCIA, CA United States | 11/23/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a huge fan of John Mayer. He's one of the few artists I can listen to without fast-forwarding to my favorite songs. Honestly, I enjoy every song he's ever done...although "Waiting on the World to Change" from his last album Continuum was pretty lame...but I'll forgive him for one dud and applaud his incredible songwriting, guitar playing and lyrics. There's no other artist on earth like John Mayer and I readily classify him as a genius.
Having said all of that, I think his latest album sucks. With the exception of two songs on the entire thing, it's a slow, boring, self-indulged bit of crap without any sense of clever sarcasm that's made his lyrics so appealing all of these years. Even worse, his guitar playing is kept in check so we don't get to experience any joy out of his uncanny ability to shred. For example, he covers the blues classic Crossroads but he does it with a wacky, distorted guitar that essentially stomps on the grave of the late, great Robert Johnson. Why? Because it has no soul. If you're going to cover a classic blues tune, you better stick to the basics, wail on your guitar and let your voice weep with the sorrow that is the blues. On his last album he covered the great Hendrix tune "Axis, Bold as Love" and he nailed it. He stuck to the original arrangement but made it his own - an instant upgrade to the classic. Why he couldn't do the same for Crossroads, I have no idea.
Pretty much every other tune is basically a sappy tale of love lost, only with John you get the feeling he doesn't actually feel devastated by his lost love. How could he when he's messing around with skanks like Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Aniston and other tabloid tramps?!
Based on the packaging of this CD, with John appearing in glamorous fashion on the cover and the fact that he brought in Taylor Swift to sing background vocals on one track, I get the feeling he's trying to score with the teen market rather than the adults who made him rich and famous. Seriously, Taylor Swift? That girl's clever because she's figured out a way to sell millions of albums, but she can't sing to save her life. What a shameful joke to even have her involved in the project. With so many talented, soulful women out there...you have to pick her?
In the liner notes, John thanks the core team that has been around him for so long and credits them with helping to create this new album, as though a group of strangers would not afford him the same luxury. I've got news for you, Mr. Mayer - you need to shake things up and get some turmoil in your life. Fire everyone who's ever worked for you and challenge yourself as an artist to work with a new production team...one that won't kiss your as* and allow you to write such boring, sappy tunes.
Still JM, but he's capable of more
D. Barton | Northern Colorado | 12/10/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After a couple weeks of listening to this, I'm ready to admit that I like the album. But I will stand by the argument that he is capable of much better songwriting than we hear on Battle Studies. The funny thing is, that seems to be the way it was intended. You get the idea Mayer got exactly what he was going for here: a straight forward, pleasant tribute to late 70's/80's pop music (You will hear the Fogelberg, Phil Collins, U2, James Taylor, etc). Lyrically it's honest and heartfelt, but not adventurous or particularly creative.
For the last several months, I've been following John on twitter, and it's impossible not to fall in love with him as a personality. This and the sheer brilliance of Continuum set up expectations that were hard to meet...and they haven't. Basically what I'd say is that it's a perfectly enjoyable album and by no means has he lost his edge, but hard to swallow when you know he's capable of magnificent. The cover on the CD, obviously in place to appease his fans on the blues end of things, classic "Crossroads" is a blast, but entirely popped out and not with the kind of grit Stevie Ray would approve of.
Assassin is a brilliant, gutsy track. But it's no "Belief" or "Vultures". "Heartbreak Warfare" is a full, orchestrated pop song...but it's not "I Don't Trust Myself"...same with "All We Ever Do" vs. "Slow Dancing...", etc. It stands on its own, and comparing it to your other albums you'll realize he's great. But compare it with the standards he set himself, and I think we have better to look forward to.
Key Tracks: Heartbreak Warfare, Half of My Heart, Assassin, Do You Know Me"