Written by Emilee Lindner • April 14, 2017
John Mayer is already out on tour, but his seventh album has just arrived, and it's a semi-return to big-budget pop music. That's all relative, however. If you compare The Search For Everything to his jams with Dead and Company, then yeah, it's a pop explosion of catchy hooks and major-keyed bops. If you compare it to what's on the radio, well, Mayer's pop isn't exactly the latest club banger. Rather, it's more complicated -- with some songs taking on more of a country-tinged Montana influence while others take it to the dancefloor with disco-ball funk.
The album, produced by John Mayer Trio dude Steve Jordan and Continuum mastermind Chad Franscoviak, has Mayer looking inside as he navigates his life post-breakup. It's about obliviousness in the idea of getting back together and the gutpunch of realizing it's really over.
"Still Feel Like Your Man" opens the project with an end-of-the-night tickle of piano, nearly cinematic in its nature, like he's meeting up with a fomer lover during last call, then deciding to take one final dance. "I still keep your shampoo in my shower," he sings in a charismatic falsetto, "In case you wanna wash your hair." He knows that it's time to let go, but he's holding onto hope.
The video for "Still Feel Like Your Man" had fans noticing the resemblance of his love interest to his real-life ex, Katy Perry. Mayer has admitted to the New York Times that some of the album is about their relationship, which makes the joint even more relatable (After all, aren't public figures just reflections of ourselves?). Mayer now wants listeners to know that he still knows how to love... and that he struggles to move on, just like the rest of us.
Like most of his work, he dwells in his pitfalls and fears his future. On "Changing," he reveals his personal growth. He was once a twentysomething heartthrob, and then he was painted as a playboy, and now he's a settled, forlorn ranch-dwelling man who loves his dog -- and Mayer realizes that he only continuing to change. His self-evolution is something of a bittersweet notion for the singer, who marinates on the idea that he may get back with his ex after he's farther down the road: "Sometimes I wonder if she'll be the one / When I am done changing." Later in the verse, he doubts himself. While he's mellowed with age, are there some traits he just can't shake? "I'm still changing / I can't change my ways," he sings before bursting into a blistering blues solo. And if certain parts of himself are stone, while others are more malleable, will he ever have a chance with the love of his life?
Two tracks later, Mayer remembers the reality of the situation. His relationship is dead. But, as human tendencies dictate, there's still a glimmer of optimism in his declaration of its death. While he was just ruminating on his flaws and worrying about the future, he switches his gaze to the present. To be healthy in the moment, he has to move on. But as he sings on "Moving On and Getting Over," it's not that easy. "Moving on and getting over / Are not the same it seems to be / 'Cause you've been gone / I'm growin' older / And I still can't seem to get you off my mind."
Fast forward to the album closer, "You're Going To Live Forever In Me," where Mayer supports his thesis on a piano ballad that has him whistling to himself. If he has moved on... and gotten over, his former lover will be the one that sparked change in him. Her spirit will linger in his essence.
"And when the pastor asks the pews / For reasons he can't marry you / I'll keep my word in my seat / But you're going to live forever in me / I guarantee." It's the most heartbreaking moment on The Search for Everything. It's when he stops trying to get the girl back, when he gives up the idea of them growing old together... when he finally tosses out that expired shampoo.
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