JOHN MAYER – Sob Rock (2021)
JOHN MAYER’s savvy use of Instagram and TikTok has made him one of the very few over-40 vocalists / guitar wizards playing classic rock to connect with kids from the generation (or two) behind his.
From its picture-perfect album cover with an ’80s-like artwork, Mayer’s new CD “Sob Rock” and its mix of classic riffs with poppy melodies cleverly attract fans from that decade and much younger people as well.
“Killer new track John,” Steve Lukather of TOTO wrote in a comment on Mayer’s June 9 Instagram post about “Sob Rock” and its lead single, “Last Train Home.” Lukather went on to praise Mayer’s “tasty playing” and to say that “Last Train Home” had the makings of “a smash” — the ultimate proof of concept for Mayer’s homage to the era of soulful white dudes, pastel color schemes and Bret Easton Ellis bestsellers.
Inspired, he’s said, by Quentin Tarantino’s casting various OGs in his movies, Mayer recruited ’80s studio standouts like keyboardist Greg Phillinganes and percussionist Lenny Castro to complement his usual players; their work provides just the right sparkle and groove to conjure the moment when blues-based rock was giving way to something shinier and more synthetic — a sonic manifestation of the affluent optimism of the day.
Mayer has assembled some classy accomplices for ”Sob Rock”. Producer Don Was made his name in the Eighties and Nineties helping middle-aged rockers like Bonnie Raitt and the Stones adapt to contemporary styles without going overboard.
And as session men go, add to the aforementioned other legendary session cats; bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Aaron Sterling.
Mayer is a sly craftsman and a virtuoso chameleon on guitar, adept at mimicking disparate styles. A booming drum intro announces the lead track, “Last Train Home,” which sounds like a historical recreation of a forgotten Eighties soundtrack cut, complete with a few economical period-appropriate Eric Clapton guitar bursts.
The veteran Chicago hip-hop producer No I.D. collaborates with him on the sleek pop-rock funk of “New Light.” And on the disillusioned “I Guess I Just Feel Like,” Mayer solos with the Jerry Garcia-like tone that earned him his job touring with the Grateful Dead.
Mayer has crafted exactly what he set out to craft with this release, a jovial and theatrical piece of ‘80s worship with a heart of gold and authenticity beneath its layers of irony.
And the good part of it is people on their 20’s actually enjoy his music too.
01 – Last Train Home
02 – Shouldn’t Matter But it Does
03 – New Light
04 – Why You No Love Me
05 – Wild Blue
06 – Shot in the Dark
07 – I Guess I Just Feel Like
08 – Til the Right One Comes
09 – Carry Me Away
10 – All I Want is to Be with You