Stop the ‘Search’ — John Mayer’s new album is everything
'The Search for Everything' is artist’s most comprehensive showing yet
“The Search for Everything” is not likely to convince any John Mayer skeptics of his talent, and it is not likely to create doubt for any Mayer diehards. At this point, Mayer has created such a reputation for himself that it would be impossible to imagine that any record could. And this new album shows him at his Mayer-iest — covering the vast array of genres he’s tried in the past and hitting a deep level of introspection lyrically. Maybe this record will not change anyone’s mind on Mayer, but it’s worth a listen for everybody as the best resume of his prolific career.
For years, Mayer has tiptoed the line between pop and something else. While most famous for the objectively bad song “Your Body Is a Wonderland,” he has a detailed history in folk and blues. This album hits on all these influences while mixing in others. Leading single “Love on the Weekend” — a song that will only sound better in the summertime — plays to the poppier side of Mayer’s discography, featuring gentle guitar and easy, repetitive lyrics such as, “Love on the weekend / like only we can.” “Roll It on Home” reaches back as a remnant of Mayer’s last two folksier album releases. Furthermore, some songs like “Helpless” are palatable for pop but still ambitious. On other songs, like “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me,” Mayer branches out. For how easy it seems to label Mayer’s celebrity, it is much harder to contain his music in a single box.
In addition, “The Search for Everything” is rife with observations, introspections and questions — so many questions that it’s easy to see this album as the search he advertises. “And what about this feeling that I’m never good enough? / Will it wash out in the water, or is it always in the blood?” he asks in the Lumineers-eque “In The Blood.” In “Emoji of a Wave,” the album’s best and most beautiful track, he notes, “I been thinking bout you too / What do we do?” The lyrics show Mayer at his most confused, though his doubts and insecurities are woven together thoughtfully on the album.
If musical variety and the lyrical depth are strengths of the album, the deficiency of Mayer’s guitar expertise is its one shortcoming. Because he tries to do so much on the album, he doesn’t provide as much time as he should to boast his strongest skill. The instrumental “Theme from ‘The Search for Everythnig’” is light and, while lovely, is a missed opportunity for Mayer, who is often more expressive with his guitar than with words.
It’s a small gripe, and a selfish one. “The Search for Everything” is brilliantly constructed. There’s acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano and even some folk, blues and pop. It’s catchy and vulnerable, often at once. If Mayer is so desperate to find “everything,” he should look no further than this new release.