Album Review: John Mayer - Battle Studies

Posted by Marcus J. Moore On 9:11 AM

Artist name: John Mayer
Album title: Battle Studies
Release date: 11.17.09

It’s probably too easy for me to associate the content of John Mayer’s Battle Studies with his recent split from former Friends actress Jennifer Aniston. Still, after multiple listens to Mayer’s latest recording, it seems as if the New York City musician is using his art to exorcise some very personal demons. Battle Studies is reflective and rooted in love, much like Lenny Kravitz’s classic Mama Said, an album in which the rocker atoned for his soured romance with Lisa Bonet. On Battle Studies, Mayer purges deeply into his soul to decipher how his romance failed, thoughtfully expresses his feelings and moves on.

Mayer has grown considerably from the young 20-something we first met to a full-fledged adult who uses his music to tackle life’s more challenging obstacles. Mayer’s major label debut, Room For Squares, was powered by his Grammy winning single, “Your Body Is A Wonderland.” In 2003, Mayer released Heavier Things, and the single “Daughters” went on to win a Grammy for Song of the Year. On his 2006 studio album, Continuum, Mayer merged pop music with the blues and won a Grammy for Best Pop Album. Until now, Mayer’s albums contained songs with multiple topics. Battle Studies can easily be called a “concept” album, since each song is focused on that ever sensitive matter of the heart — love.

“All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye” stands out because of the content and the sincerity by which Mayer delivers his message. The subtle pluck of the acoustic guitar and the occasional tap of piano keys help this song glide effortlessly across your ear drums. The pace picks up somewhat on the country twang of “Half Of My Heart,” which features vocalist Taylor Swift. Although half of Mayer’s heart has “a grip on the situation,” the other half’s “got a right mind to tell you that I can’t keep loving you.” But just as fast as the energy heightens, it deflates just as quickly on “Who Says,” which is produced using an acoustic guitar and drum brushes.

By the time “Assassin” rolls around, Mayer uses harder drums, deep bass and an electric guitar to deliver a hard shot to his departed love. “I was a killer, was the best they’d ever seen. I’d steal your heart before you ever heard a thing,” Mayer croons on the chorus to this edgy song. “I’m an assassin and I had a job to do. Little did I know that girl was an assassin, too.”

On “Edge of Desire,” Mayer uses more hard rock-n-roll to make one last plea to his lover before calling it off completely. By the album’s last song, the epic “Friends, Lovers Or Nothing,” he delivers an ultimatum and stands his ground. “There’ll never be an in-between,” Mayer sings, “so give it up.” All told, Battle Studies is best digested on a calm day, or during the course of a breakup. But even if you’re solidly in love, John Mayer has delivered an opus through you can relate.

Marcus J. Moore

Sound-Savvy rates Battle Studies with 4 out of 5 platinum headphones.

1 Comment

  1. Nice review!! I definitely enjoyed this album but noticed the differences and the growth from "Continuum" to now... 'Assassin' is my favorite track on here as well as 'Do You Know Me' and 'All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye'.

    Posted on November 24, 2009 at 10:01 AM


Post a Comment