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John Mayer: Continuum

John Mayer: Continuum

Release Date:2006

By Anthony Miccio | Posted 11/1/2006

John Mayer's willingness to represent the glib white male is as frustrating as it is fascinating: He's aware of his privilege but refuses to self-flagellate. Opening Continuum with a happy clap-along about the futility of protest and closing with a proud ex-girl-to-the-next-girl blues, he's risking offense by expressing emotions most artists wouldn't dare throw at their adoring fan base. What he doesn't realize is that it's easy to be "Waiting on the World to Change" when its problems don't really affect you, and he knows "I'm Gonna Find Another You" because he sticks with girls like Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Unless he gets his heart crushed by some Ivy League actress he can't pretend he's smarter than, he's never going to get the humbling slap that will make him the singer/songwriter his rapidly evolving music deserves.

Where his previous albums hopped awkwardly between well-crafted adult contemporary and overreaching blues exercises, Continuum weds Mayer's VH1 verse-chorus-verse and hunger for hot licks with professional, occasionally inspired aplomb. Mayer does for blues-rock what artists like Nellie McKay do for cabaret, showing how much topical juice and room for expression still exists in styles usually reserved for cult virtuosos and museum pieces.

It's wonderful to see him building off the sound of Heavier Things' "Clarity"--a song beautiful enough to merit comparisons to Stevie Wonder and Van Morrison--despite the success of smug treacle like "Daughters." But self-certainty also serves as his lyrical muse. Only "Belief," with its suggestion that everybody is too fucking self-certain these days, gets past his pathology. Bros looking for self-empowerment anthems and girls who don't mind being treated like replaceable bouquets of tender crazy are the only folks who will treat this former wunderkind like the genius he's trying to be.

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