Where To Start With... John Mayer
A skilled guitarist with a knack for songwriting that has seen him shift more than 20 million albums worldwide, John Mayer started out by cutting his teeth on the live circuit for a few years in the late 1990s as one half of duo Lo-Fi Masters before getting his big break winning over audiences with a solo performance at the 2001 SXSW festival, quickly being spotted and snapped up first by Evanston, Illinois-based label Aware Records and then by Columbia.
From there, his rise to commercial success was rapid; his 2001 debut album Room for Squares climbed into the Billboard Chart’s Top 10, also scoring Mayer a huge global hit with one of its singles, ‘Your Body Is a Wonderland’, which remains one his most-streamed tracks even now. Over seven studio albums, several live LPs and a handful of extended plays, Mayer has managed a hat-trick of Billboard Chart-topping albums (plus three more which peaked at No.2) and won seven Grammy Awards, with another dozen nominations to his name too. Put simply, Mayer has been one of America’s most consistently bankable recording artists of the 21st century so far.
Drumroll then, please, as Mayer prepares to unleash his eighth full-length offering this week, his first studio album since 2017’s The Search for Everything. His new album Sob Rock arrives in stores on July 16th and has already seen the Bridgeport, Connecticut-born singer-songwriter bag another huge hit with its lead single ‘New Light’ (the video for which you can find below), co-written with hip-hop producer and sometime Kanye West mentor Ernest Wilson, better known to many as No-ID.
Co-produced alongside Mayer himself by legendary producer and Blue Note Records boss Don Was, Sob Rock contains 10 new tracks that see Mayer continue to evolve the soulful blend of pop, country, funk and Americana that has become his trademark over the last two decades.
To celebrate its arrival, we went combing through Mayer’s back catalogue and picked out five key tracks from his all-conquering journey so far…
‘Your Body Is a Wonderland’
Both of Mayer’s first two singles found their way into the Top 20 in the US, and while his debut single ‘No Such Thing’ might have slightly outperformed its follow-up at the time, ‘Your Body Is a Wonderland’ had undoubtedly enjoyed a more enduring appeal, its lilting groove remaining a fan favourite to this day.
Acoustic guitar-led balladry is where Mayer excels and of the two or three monster hits we could have lifted from his 2003 LP Heavier Things, ‘Daughters’ is arguably the album’s best example of that.
‘Waiting On the World to Change’
If you need an example of Mayer’s gift with a direct, brain-worm of a melody then look no further than the opening salvo from his 2006 album Continuum. His voice never sounded so soulful as it does here.
‘Queen of California’
Bringing his country influences to bear while simultaneously name-checking some of his own songwriting heroes from California’s storied Laurel Canyon, this track from 2012 LP Born and Raised is a gloriously mellow slice of Americana that still ranks as one of his most effortless moments.
‘Still Feel Like Your Man’
Our final pick is from Mayer’s most recent LP The Search for Everything and finds him at his most funky, channelling vintage Marvin Gaye and lamenting a lost love on one of his most infectious grooves to date.
Sob Rock is available in hmv stores from Friday Jul 16 - you can also find it here in our online store.