"I actually, for the first time in my life, believe I recorded exactly what I was feeling." These are John Mayer’s words from an interview with Rolling Stone magazine about the latest EP from his upcoming album “The Search for Everything.” The album itself will come out on April 14th, however, Mayer has been releasing its content in a series of “Waves.” He released the first one on January 20th, and the latest on February 24th. Mayer's evolution has been evident throughout his musical career. From the catchy acoustic pop melodies of his first album “Room for Squares,” to his blues/soul charged guitar solos on “Continuum,” and then the truthful lyrics and folk vibes on “Born and Raised,” Mayer has proved himself to be one of the most diverse and versatile artists of his generation, and this album is just further proof.
“Wave Two” talks about break up in a really personal way and provides a window into the writer’s mind, as well as his thoughts while coping with emotional distress. The first single of “Wave Two” is titled “I Still Feel Like Your Man” is a song that captures the best of genres like R&B, funk, and Motown without compromising its spirit as a pop song. It starts with a vocal harmonization by Mayer that would make Marvin Gaye proud, accompanied by a chord progression on the piano. The very slow intro transitions into the song’s true tempo, creating a groove that carries the listener through the lyrics. “I Still Feel Like Your Man” layers tasty guitar fills, a classy and soulful bass line, and a syncopated drum beat that fuse together perfectly, making it impossible not to dance along. The song phases into a trippy bridge, reminiscent of Frank Ocean’s sound in his first studio album, and finally into a last extended chorus, to end the song.
The second song of “Wave Two” is “Emoji of a Wave,” a melancholy ballad that explains the hardship of break up and living distant from your loved one. The Mayer explained that the song is actually about his break up with the singer Katy Perry. The song itself uses a lot of imagery to convey its message, the chorus: “Oh honey/ oh honey/ it’s just a wave/ it’s just a wave/ and I know/ that when it comes/ I just hold on/ I just hold on” metaphorically talks about life being like a wave, that no matter where it takes you, you just “hold on” to it. It is a 180 degree change from the first song on the album, both lyrically and musically. The song features a playful folk orchestration with acoustic guitar, strings, and harmonies from Jardine, one of the Beach Boys.
The EP changes gears once again with the third song in the EP, “Helpless.” Originally written for the 2012 album “Born and Raised,” this blues/rock tune did not make the cut then, but was revived for this album. The song goes beyond the theme of broken hearts and relationships to explore feelings of helplessness missing from the EP's other tracks. “Helpless,” brings back the guitar chops of Mayer that had been missing in his last albums, but were always present in his works “John Mayer Trio,” and in his 2006 album “Continuum.” It features explosive electric guitar riffs and solos, and an outro where Mayer is heard playing several guitar licks until the song fades off. This song was recorded live in the studio by Mayer and his band.
The last song in the EP is titled “Roll It on Home,” is a straightforward country tune, closer to what Mayer did on his last two albums: “Born and Raised,” and “Paradise Valley.” Mayer says the song is about “the moment you realize you’ve been in the bar so long that tonight’s already yesterday.” It features traditional country instruments like acoustic guitar and lap steel guitar. Paired with and easy going drum beat its enough to make you want to sit back in a recliner on a Sunday afternoon and “Roll it on Home.” Certainly a song that reminds of some of his idols like Eric Clapton, and JJ Cale.
“The Search for Everything: Wave Two,” is a beautifully constructed EP that perfectly encompasses the evolution of John Mayer’s music. Wave Two feels very well put together due to its cohesiveness in theme: break up. He did a great job putting his mind into his music, and this is easily one of his most ambitious works to the date. If the rest of the album is like the first two “Waves,” this could easily be his best work yet.