The follow-up to 2012’s Born and Raised, Paradise Valley is the sixth album for contentious singer/songwriter John Mayer. With its simplistic brilliance both lyrically and melodically, Paradise Valley is sure to be another successful addition to Mayer’s musical catalogue.
Mayer has enlisted some high profile friends to help out on his new album, with current flame Katy Perry lending vocals for Who You Love and R&B star Frank Ocean starring on a track called Wildfire, which is towards the end of the album, and not to be confused with the opening song of the same name.
Some tracks are slightly less memorable or impressive in my opinion (Waitin’ on the Day, I Will Be Found/Lost at Sea), while they are not necessarily poor tracks they are probably the weaker songs of Paradise Valley.
Wildfire is a fun and catchy toe-tapper bursting with energy and positivity (“You and me been catching on like Wildfire”) and the sound of Summer with lyrics (“You look fine, fine, fine put your feet up next to mine/We can watch that water line get higher and higher”) and signature Mayer guitar riffs.
Dear Marie is a slower, mostly acoustic and vulnerable sounding letter to a past love (“Dear Marie, tell me what it was I used to be…Remember me, I’m the boy you used to love when you were 15/Now I wonder what you think when you see me in a magazine….I got that dream but you got yourself a family”). The pace lifts towards the end with some woah-oh-ing and heavier guitar work to finish off the track.
The first single Paper Doll has been described by many as somewhat of a rebuttal to former girlfriend Taylor Swift’s Dear John (2010) which was reportedly written about their relationship. Mayer has neither confirmed or denied the claims, but with lyrics such as “You’re like 22 girls in one” (Swift has a song called 22 on her latest album Red) and “Someone’s gonna paint you another sky” (Taylor sings “You paint me a blue sky and go back and turn it to rain” in Dear John), it’s not hard to read between the lines. Coincidence vs. intentional references debate aside, Paper Doll is an accurate depiction of the entire album’s style, with personal and seemingly effortlessly written lyrics parading on top of some classic John Mayer simple yet beautiful melodies.
Call Me The Breeze is up next, which is a country/folk/pop sounding number – a mid-tempo tune again showing off Mayer’s undeniably impressive guitar–playing abilities before moving onto the duo romantic ballad Who You Love with Katy Perry.
The second Wildfire, featuring Frank Ocean is almost entirely Ocean on his own, showing off that famous soothing voice with some sweet, melancholy lyrics against some soft piano notes for most of the minute-and-a-half-long track.
Paradise Valley is a collection of simple yet effective and personal storytelling which John Mayer has made himself famous for. A mix of ballads (Badge and Gun, Who You Love) and faster, catchy tunes (Wildfire, Call Me the Breeze, On the Way Home), Mayer has produced an album which sounds effortlessly impressive. His distinctive voice sounds flawless and gentle on each track as it’s backed up by complementing instrumental work including some harmonica on the closing track On the Way Home. Paradise Valley is an impressive collection delivered in classic John Mayer style which should please old fans and earn him many new ones.