Paradise Valley: Happy Album Release Day!

20 August, 2013

There is a reason I don't write actual album reviews.

I'm not very good at it.

I'm just a chick who totally digs music for reasons that aren't completely quantifiable. And who every so often likes to throw around a big vocabulary.

I sometimes feel like every time John Mayer comes out with new material or a new album I proclaim, "This is seriously the best yet! This is by far my favorite album!" I think that is really telling of both the musician and the listener--to grow at the same "pace" as someone you admire I think is rare. And I hope there never comes a day where I outgrow the music or the music outgrows me.

When John Mayer released Born and Raised last year, I posted my "review" about the album. I had avoided all press about the album before its release because I wanted to listen to it in its purest form--just me, my headphones and the music. I did almost the same thing with Paradise Valley.

I sat with a pen, my notebook and just listened. From beginning to end with no distractions and took it all in--word for word, note for note.

Unlike some of his albums, I loved this one right out of the gate. There was a definite sense of growth, not only in his song writing (lyrically and musically) but also in his ability to play the guitar and pull emotions from those six strings.

Wildfire (Version 1.0, not 2.0 that he did with Frank Ocean) and Waiting on the Day are two songs that couldn't be more different than one another, yet are my two favorites from the album. Wildfire is my summer jam (sorry, previously declared summer jam, Blurred Lines). It's fun and poppy and impossible to not get up and do a little dance when it comes on. Waiting on the Day broke my heart--there is such a huge sense of longing with this one. When it ended there was a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach.

And while I L.O.V.E.D. the lyrics of Who You Love, Jenna put it perfectly when she posted on Twitter "LOVEEEE the song. Then she (i.e. Katy Perry) happens." I feel the same way about this song as I did about Half of My Heart and Taylor Swift--totally unnecessary and kind of annoying. One of the things I have always appreciated about Mayer's music, is that regardless of who (if there even is/was a who) he wrote a certain song about, it didn't feel like he wrote a song about a specific person. This one doesn't have that same feel--it's almost too personal and should have been kept between them. Even though Perry's verse could have been written about my feeling for Captain Random (there is a blast from the past!).

Here are the rest of my thoughts on the album, unedited, as written in my notebook (sticky notes and all!) while listening to the Paradise Valley for the first time (and the perfect example as to why I don't write album reviews):
  • Wildfire: Summer jam! Heart this song hard core!
  • Dear Marie: This song totally broke my heart. Tears--lots and lots of tears.
  • Waiting on the Day: Definite Ryan Adams feel. Such a huge sense of longing. Great tune. Easily the most mature.
  • Paper Doll: Nicely packaged insult if it really is about someone.
  • Call Me The Breeze: The guitar is AMAZING!!!
  • Who You Love: Lyrically=good. Musically=NO! Every album has a song I don't like. Ack!
  • I Will Be Found (Lost At Sea): Meh.
  • Wildfire 2.0: Wha??? It is not often that I don't "get it", but I don't get this at all. Weird. 
  • You're No One 'Til Someone Lets You Down: This one is kind of fun in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way.
  • Badge & Gun: Ultimate break-up song, without really being a break-up song.
  • On The Way Home: Gah--LOVE!
I know I may seem a little bias when it comes to all things related to John Mayer's music, but it is hard not to. He has provided the soundtrack to my life for the last 10+ years and I can't wait to see what the next ten bring, musically speaking of course.

Random Note: I'm going to be really annoyed if that dog on the cover (and back) of the CD booklet is not his dog. I don't know why the potential of that not being his dog bothers me so much, but you've been put on notice Mayer. 

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