John Mayer – Heavier Things (2003) [2.0 & 5.1]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD/DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 46:04 minutes | Scans included | 4.15 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | 46:07 mins | Scans included | 981 MB
John Mayer’s big-label debut was a multiplatinum breakthrough success whose sensual anthem “Your Body Is a Wonderland” scored him an unlikely Grammy for Best Pop Vocal. That out-of-the-box succes–and more than a few critics grousing that Mayer’s muse was cloned from Dave Matthews–primed him for the typical sophomore slump. Instead, Mayer delivers an album whose tone and title suggests a gentle, tongue-in-cheek rebuke to his naysayers. Propelled by the subtle ambitions of an expanded pop-jazz framework (largely courtesy of Sheryl Crow/No Doubt/Jellyfish producer Jack Joseph Puig), Mayer’s breathy vocal tack now suggests a detached, conflicted, and significantly less precious incarnation of Michael Franks. But, the way he weds fluid pop hooks to lyrical concerns whose self-obsessions are undercut by telling dollops of self-deprecation from the my-spirit’s-too-big/smart-for-my-body laments of “Clarity,” the upbeat single “Bigger Than My Body,” and the bluesy plea “Come Back to Bed” to the cautionary, melodically-rich “Daughters” and even the antimaterialist agitprop of “Something’s Missing” should clearly draw in listeners.
Don’t take the title of John Mayer’s Heavier Things literally. Mayer offers nothing heavy on the follow-up to his breakthrough hit, Room for Squares — nothing heavy in the music and nothing heavy in the lyrics. No, Mayer is smooth, slick, and streamlined on his second or third album (it all depends if you count his 1999 debut, Inside Wants Out, half of which was re-recorded for Room for Squares, which itself was released in two different incarnations), playing things straight and following the blueprint his big radio hit, “Your Body Is a Wonderland,” provided. The title Heavier Things does reflect his new directness, lacking the lithe playfulness that resulted in a Hank Mobley joke, of all things, for an album title last time out. That extends to the rest of the album — the humor and interesting wordplay have been toned down, leaving very little ambiguity. Actually, there’s little left unexplained on the record, with every song on the album spread across several grids explaining where they were written and how many beats per minute they are, breaking them down into keywords, charting what “suggested target points” on the body the song should hit (tellingly, not one track is targeted at the crotch), and even grouping the songs together by key. The latter is a bit of a mistake, since it shows that for all those jazzy major and minor seventh chords gliding by in his songs, he’s keeping his songwriting pretty simple, sticking to D, E, F, G, and A, with a G minor thrown in for good measure. This, of course, is not really a problem for listeners, since most listeners don’t care how a song is written as long as it sounds good, but this does confirm that he’s kept things simple, concentrating on how the record sounds and feels. And, as a piece of mood music, this is really quite effective, delivering on how “Your Body Is a Wonderland” sounds, with some really nice lush, laid-back textures and songs that are melodic without being truly catchy. It’s music that floats through the speakers nicely and never leaves much of a lasting impression; it’s how a jazzier, laid-back, less adventurous, and MOR-oriented Dave Matthews would sound. Mayer is now more of a record-maker than songwriter, which will undoubtedly dishearten those who liked the song-oriented Inside Wants Out, but those who just enjoyed the sound and feel of Room for Squares should feel right at home.
02. Bigger Than My Body
03. Something’s Missing
04. New Deep
05. Come Back To Bed
06. Home Life
07. Split Screen Sadness
09. Only Heart