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JOHN MAYER - CONTINUUM - SONY/BMG
Record Rating: *****

JOHN MAYER - CONTINUUM Thanks to the success of the Grammy-award winning track Your Body Is A Wonderland, Mayer's first album went triple platinum and remained on the US Top 20 for more than 90 consecutive weeks. Heavier Things followed, which proved that Mayer was no one-album wonder. After a three-year absence, John Mayer rebounds with Continuum, perhaps his best album to date. By the sound of things, he underwent both a personal and a professional transformation that left him rejuvenated and spiritually renewed. He proves here that he’s willing to take some chances, rattle some cages, and branch out into directions that may surprise some devotees. From the first spin, the album strikes a different note from his previous studio outings ~ the twelve songs are more tightly wound and much slicker. While he's equally adept at limning misery as bliss as on the first single Waiting For The World To Change, it’s love once again that really sends Mayer over the moon, and even at his most downbeat (as on Slow Dancing In A Burning Room) this gift resounds with a disarming hopefulness that's spiritual soul food. Mayer is master of what Meltzer called the ‘unknown tongue’ ~ you relate to your own life while listening and can't help but wonder how he knows it so well. As on his prior releases, the songwriting embodies genuine emotional and compositional depth, giving such tunes as The Heart Of Life, Dreaming With A Broken Heart, and I’m Gonna Find Another You a mood of romantic melancholy and an ageless sense of wonder that suggests that this album is more than likely to have a lengthy life. Where his early work maintained a straightforward folk pop sound, on standouts like In Repair and I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You) he integrates sampled sounds and sequenced rhythms alongside the fuller band arrangements that Mayer employed on previous outing Heavier Things, with distinctly satisfying results. What's most compelling is that he’s expanded what he can do as a musician; augmenting his original compositions is a heavy hitting cover of Jimi Hendrix's Bold As Love snuggled in between.

In the liner notes of Continuum, Mayer thanks Eric Clapton, who ‘knows I steal from him and is still cool with it’ ~ and that pretty much sums up everything ~ the music on this disc is a close relative to Clapton’s late output of the last decade. Showcasing Mayer like never before, this is an album of depth and quality, and one would be hard-pressed to ignore his talent. His will to evolve is certainly impressive, and as long as he keeps zigging when folks expect him to zag, his spot in rock's pantheon is secure. Well recommended.

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