John Mayer: Battle Studies | CD review

(Columbia)

His name might not register much over here, but John Mayer is a real, live big deal in the States. This Grammy-winning, Jennifer Aniston-dating, sneaker-designing (no, really) AOR pin-up has sold 13m fearlessly commercial albums, veering stylistically between glossy modern blues and, well, glossy modern pop; here his intent is to channel the sunny, clear (and resurgently fashionable) radio-friendly sounds of Fleetwood Mac or Tom Petty. But Battle Studies's immaculate musical sheen is so pathologically tasteful, so desperately non-threatening, that it ends up sounding more like a Ronan Keating solo album. The single Who Says is a hymn to spontaneity that could make Jack Johnson sound like Black Flag: "Who says I can't get stoned/ Plan a trip to Japan alone/ Doesn't matter if I even go." Mayer's talents are obvious, but there's so much more cheese than charm here that he would seem like a hard sell outside the Billboard heartland.

Contributor

Tom Hughes

The GuardianTramp

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