06/30/08 - Album Review - John Mayer "Where The Light Is"

Tutelage Led By Vinny "Bond" Marini Monday, June 30, 2008

Now, I have to begin by saying that only recently have I begun listening to John Mayer. Sure I have known of him and all, but listening...well that just started recently. I only had a couple of his songs on my iTunes and I always enjoyed them. I have never seen him in concert either.
That is going to have to change.

WHERE THE LIGHT IS - JOHN MAYER LIVE IN LOS ANGELES is his newest effort and the first album I have listened to start to finish. It drops from Sony/BMG into your stores tomorrow, July 1st.

The concert opens with Mr. Mayer on stage playing acoustic. On Friday, we let you hear one of these tunes "Stop This Train". These song showcase his guitar playing, a combination of chords and picking intertwined to create a kaleidoscope of colors behind his voice.

In our comments section, Another Desert Rat heard the early James Taylor in the guitar and the whistling...and I have to agree. I felt transported back to those early songs by Mr. Taylor.

Mayer's voice is strong in falsetto and he endears you to the melody with some breathless passages during "Train" and "In Your Atmosphere".

"Daughters", from his HEAVIER THINGS album, which won Mayer the 2005 Grammy for Song Of The Year, is included during the acoustic set.

He ends the acoustic set with a most wonderful interpretation of the Tom Petty hit "Free Fallin'". I love Petty's version, but this might have moved a tad above. Mayer owns the song, infusing it with his unique vocal styling and the guitar work is just remarkable.

Next is the trio set along with Steve Jordan on drums & vocals and Pino Palladino on bass.

They open with "Everyday I Have The Blues" and set the stage for an 8-song set of guitar laden rock and blues.

"Wait Until Tomorrow" and "Who Did You Think I Was" are both reminiscent of the power trios of the 60's and 70's.

Then a walking boogie "Come When I Call" stops you in your tracks. This is when the trio really meshes with Jordan & Palladino laying down the road and Mayer traveling across the surface smooth as silk.

"Good Love Is On The Way" which appeared as an acoustic version on the EP THE VILLAGE SESSIONS is next and could be mistaken for any number of songs released by other artists...at least in the electric version. It is the one song on the CD I have not listened to twice.

Then back to what I believe is what the trio does best...a slow blues number entitled "Out Of My Mind". Mayer shows us how his mastery of the guitar is in the vein of Stevie and Eric and B.B..

"Vultures" from CONTINUUM opens with Palladino and Jordan laying down a hard blues beat and then Mayer lets his guitar pick it's place...Once again showing the solid relationship between the three musicians.

The trio's set ends with Mayer's cover of the brilliant Jimi Hendrix tune "Bold As Love". His bandmates create the carpet of sound originally laid down by Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding. No one can truly recreate the magic of Jimi, but Mayer shows, once again, why Rolling Stone Magazine has had him on the cover of their Guitar Heroes issue for the last two years.

Disc two is dedicated to the band set, which consists of Mayer, David Ryan Harris on guitars, tambourine and vocals; Robbie McIntosh on guitars, dobro and vocals; JJ Johnson on drums; David Labruyere on Bass; Tim Bradshaw on keys, lap steel and vocals; Bob Reynolds on tenor and soprano saxophone; and Brad Mason on trumpet and flugelhorn.

The set opens with the song that earned Mayer the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal in 2006, "Waiting On The World To Change".

Also included in this set is "Slow Dancing In A Burning Room", the song featured on 2 episodes of C.S.I. in 2006 and the funky "I Don't Need No Doctor" written by Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson and made famous to millions of rockers by Humble Pie in the 70's. Mayer's take has a little more of an R&B feel to it and I could see taking darlin' Nancy in my arms and spinning across the dance floor to this one.

Also included is "Gravity", the song Mayer has been quoted as saying is "the song I have always wanted to write". A slow ballad featuring a solo by Mayer that sweeps the listener away.

Other songs are "Why Georgia", "The Heart Of Life", "I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)", "Belief" and "I'm Gonna Find Another You".

Over all you'll get the full spectrum of the John Mayer experience on these two discs. The concert is also being released on a DVD, though we were not able to obtain a copy.

If you are a Mayer fan, you need to check out this effort. If you are on the fence about this talent, this collection just might push you over to his side.

The packaging is well done with a separate booklet of pictures from the concert.

One thing, and YES, this is a nit-pick that bothered my A-type personality and my advertising mindset, was that two of the songs had misspellings in their titles when they transferred into my iTunes. Not sure if this was corrected by the time the CD was mass produced, but for an artist that seems to have control of his career, I can't believe he would be happy.

In our opinion, worth your money...worth your time...and it will stay in your rotation once you give it a listen.