If the music market were a supermarket, you would find processed cheese, imitation meat, and a bunch of other products, needing no refrigeration, made with elements you didn’t even know were approved by the FDA.
But occasionally, if you wander the aisles rather than staring at the sales, you will stumble on some truly natural and nourishing food.
This food is something like John Mayer’s 2001 release with Columbia, “Room for Squares.”
It is perfectly unpretentious and honest. A native of the town of Fairfield, his new CD is climbing up the charts and his video is being played on TV.
This up and comer has already toured with such acts as Pete Yorn, Dispatch, Better Than Ezra,Matt Nathanson, and Howie Day.
“Room for Squares” possesses the quality that only a select few CDs have: the ability to be played over and over again without becoming tiring.
The album as a whole is extremely cohesive and flows together. While the songs seem to be molded from a similar style, it is done without a hint of monotony.
Mayer’s soft, soothing voice comes through clearly on each song, and the music is a fusion of acoustic rock and jazz influences, especially prevalent on the song “City Love.” Other songs possess that gentle texture of being fitted for the “Felicity” soundtrack, such as “Not Myself” and “St. Patrick’s Day”.
The music and vocals compliment each other, sometimes having the same rhythm, with neither one overpowering the other. His choruses are catchy and memorable, but not redundant and pop-ish.
Mayer’s lyrics are realistic and story-telling, but the words are also chosen perfectly to achieve a sense of insight and poetry, and make you wish you could have thought of as eloquent a way to say the same simple thing.
His songs highlight very human tendencies and situations, ranging from feeling confused with one’s identity in “Not Myself,” to sensuality in “Your Body is a Wonderland,” to constantly flubbing conversation in “My Stupid Mouth.”
Many of the songs detail the disillusionment and uncertainty that accompanies being young. In “Why Georgia,” Mayer sings about feelings of wanting to “keep the car in drive, and leave it all behind.”
He sardonically explains his “quarter-life crisis” and the “stirring of my soul” as possible reasons behind the loneliness and endless questioning at this stage in life. He asks, “I wonder sometimes/ About the outcome / of a still verdictless life/ Am I living it right?”
His new single “No Such Thing,” which has become very radio friendly, is perfectly fitting for college students.
He sings, “So the good girls and boys take/ the so called right track / faded white hats/ grabbing credits, maybe transfers/ They read all the books but they can’t find the answers” and wonders if our parents ever look back and wish they could do it over differently.
While society pressures its young to adopt certain values and life paths, branding them as the “right” road, Mayer indicates that it is all a construct. While “They love to tell you ‘stay inside the lines’/ but something’s better on the other side/ I just found out there’s no such thing as the real world/ Just a lie you got to rise above.”
Other songs exalt in experiencing the world for yourself. Written almost in the form of a letter from a road-trip, “3×5” deals with leaving someone behind to explore rather than only viewing the world through small 3×5 pictures, and overcoming “trying to fit the world inside a picture frame.”
Beautifully describing the scene as “Today skies are painted colors of a cowboy’s cliché,” Mayer explains the redemptive quality of having your physical and mental journey advance alongside each other. He sings, “Didn’t have a camera by my side this time/ Hoping I would see the world with both my eyes … You should have seen that sunrise/ With your own eyes/ It brought me back to life.”
The album as a whole is wonderfully produced and mixed, and all elements intertwine to form a comprehensive creation.
Whether you want to become lost in the smooth voice and the circular melodies, the guitar chords that on certain songs seem to sound like a different instrument, or the overall package, “Room for Squares” is perfect for any mood.
So pop it in. Keep it on repeat. Enjoy.