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4.2 out of 5 stars
Paradise Valley
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
'Paradise Valley' is the sixth studio album from the seasoned singer/songwriter/guitarist John Mayer.

Mayer's protean talent is unmistakable and this is another truly enjoyable record; one that builds upon his cliche "return to roots" guided by producer Don Was. His move back to blues (which never really disappeared from his music in the first place) begun with Born and Raised last year. Geographically, 'Paradise Valley' is more Montana than the California-esque Born and Raised; as suggested by the slightly awkward artwork (is that really Don Was on the back cover with John?!). This is now where John Mayer lives.

Following Born and Raised there was a concern that the return of his throat issues may spell the end of his career. Thankfully Mayer's vocals are back on track. There is a nasal-twang reminiscent of David Gray (such as on 'Waitin' On The Day') and his voice sounds suitably developed.

This now well matured voice is complimentary to some of his best produced music to date. The catchy opener and closer for the record are about as upbeat as the album really gets but within there are some intensely honest moments, without quite reaching the peaks met in Continuum. My particular favourite is the cover of the late J.J. Cale's 'Call Me The Breeze' and his fitting collaboration with Katy Perry is surprisingly sophisticated.

On the negative side his most catchy offering, 'Paper Doll' (apparently in response to Taylor Swift) is on the surface quite childish and hypocritical following his own comments about her track. Also the rather indolent reprise from Frank Ocean is nothing more than an unashamed plug and sours what could have been another classic. Instead the album, which only just clocks in at 40 minutes (his shorted to date) is slightly unfulfilled but still brimming with undeniable talent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
On John Mayer's eighth studio album he has blended folk, blues, country and even a touch of Claptonesque guitar to glorious effect and produced a slice of pure Americana.

it is a gentle, introspective album with nine songs from his own pen that are bittersweet, reflective and literate. The album is an intensely personal song cycle devoted to the emotions, uncertainties and frailties of life. In the exquisitely crafted song "Dear Marie" he asks an old flame,

"Dear Marie, tell me do you still believe in me?
Yeah, I've got my dreams, but you've got family".

His voice evokes the sensations of yearning and searching for answers in the enigmatic "Paper Doll". It seems as though he has found and then lost the love of a girl who was emotionally unstable:

"Cause you're like twenty two girls in one
And none of them knew what they're runnin' from,
Was it just too far too fall?"

His personal demons are further explored in "I Will Be Found (Lost At Sea)", a beautiful but simple evocation of loneliness and heartache:

"I saw her face and I could tell
My ghost had left the town as well".

His duet with Katy Perry "Who You Love", celebrates the rekindling of their romance with a a touch of the blues and a heartbeat of drums.

There is a perfectly realised reading of J J Cale's "Call Me The Breeze" - pure blues - and the Ernest Tubb inspired "You're No One 'Til Someone Lets You Down" - pure country.

The spare acoustic sound to all of these songs are complemented by occasional horns and Wurlitzer. It is an album of subtle beauty produced by the legendary Don Was. It is probably John Mayer's finest moment on record.
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on 1 September 2013
I can't help but notice the polarising extremes of reviews of this album - it's "genius", it's "appalling" - well objectively neither but more of a very generous middle.

Yes it is not in a dissimilar vein to 'Born and Raised', yes it is even more laid back - but at a stage of his life -after some pretty disastrous interviews and verbal free-falling - he seems to be arriving at some kind of peace with himself and growing past his reportedly more reckless, playboy lifestyle - is this any surprise? More importantly, it does lead to some pretty life-affirming, easy and relaxing melodic listening - life can't be all Linkin Park and Imagine Dragons. And the album does grow on you more and more with repeated listens - in some ways it lacks the stronger tracks of 'Born and Raised' but plays better as a cohesive whole.

However, with the exception of very catchy country, latest (US) radio track 'Wildfire' - this album does blend into itself a little and single songs don't stand out and scream at you - "I'm awesome!" I fear 'Continuum' wont ever be matched at this stage and I can't help wish for him to get downright funky ('Vultures') and rocky ('Bigger than my Body') again on some of his new material. That said, it does grow on you more and more and more with repeated listens, most especially 'Waiting on the Day' and 'Lost at Sea'; which are becoming two of my favourite Mayer tracks ever.

That said 'Wildfire' part 2 with Frank Ocean offers a dark respite to all that country twang; duet with Katy Perry is a delight that leaves you wanting Perry to sing more; 'Paper Doll' offers an almost transcendental rebuff to Taylor's 'Dear John' and 'Dear Marie' reminds us of John's more vulnerable side that he revealed so endearingly on earlier albums.

A very enjoyable album, bordering on being a truly great one.
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Having only just recently discovered the joys of John Mayer's music, I have gone straight from this 2001 debut album Room For Squares, right up to his latest, 'Paradise Valley', released in 2013. I have to say, as much as I enjoyed the first one, this is even better. If I could rate it 4.5 stars, I would.

'Paradise Valley' is a superb collection of mellow, relaxing songs, from an accomplished, all-around American musician. The man sure knows how to play a good acoustic guitar, and this laid-back, country-flavoured folk-rock music, is perfect for playing on the stereo during those cold Winter nights with a nice glass of wine. The duets with Katy Perry (of whom I am not a fan, but her voice does shine on this track), and Frank Ocean are nice additions, but personally, it's the solo stuff from John that I appreciate the most.

Nothing bluesy or heavy can be found here, but for easy-listening pleasure, this is a must. Well done John!
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on 12 November 2013
This is my first JM album. I expected more of a blues album having seen him in the Clapton 'Crossroads' dvd and having heard his JJ Cale cover so was surprised to hear a mellow, laid back and non-rocky record. However, safe production issues aside, it's a very good album. The only song I don't like is Who You Love (the Katy Perry co-write) which for me is a poor song - boring in fact. All the other tracks have a great easy feel to them. I'll try a couple of the earlier albums now. In the past I disregarded him. Great guitarist sure but for me you have to be able to connect with an artist and I didn't. Then he appeared on Later with Jools and I thought he was great. Glad I checked him out. A nice surprise. Listen to 'I Will Be Found' which is a highlight for me. Great song, well played....if you like this definitely buy the cd!
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on 23 September 2013
Adding some more country to his renewed style, this album confirms JM's ability as songwriter and musician. Really good music to listen in the car and to reflect on, especially suitable for the end of summer and the approach of fall. It's easy to understand that the personal struggle of Mayer has ended well, and if Born and Raised was an album of acknowledging this struggle and its early ending, one can easily feel the calm and satisfaction that come from the confirm that that struggle is really over and it's time for something new.
Really good album for the die-hard fan, who can follow his personal journey reflected in the music. Amazing album for everyone, with good music, good songwriting and a lot of chillin' atmosphere. Perfect album to listen on the road after a day at the beach.
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Paradise Valley is not Born and Raised and it's not Continuum. But it is a good offering of a time filler, to keep us amused and entertained while there is work in progress. John Mayer's own words were that not all albums can be brilliant or #No.1, if they were, then #No.1 would mean nothing. This is a great #No.2!!! Subtle and chilled songs that (as usual) mirror Mayer's mood in his biographical type song writing - you are lead to believe he is in a much better place. Can't wait for the next album, but enjoying this one.
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on 27 November 2013
I am a die hard JM fan but still find a few tracks on here to be a bit too 'country' but the rest of the tracks are brilliant...highlights for me are 'Wildfire', 'Waitin on the day', 'I will be found (lost at sea)' and 'On the way home'. As with all his previous albums he brings something new to this one and i personally love it and hope he keeps evolving this way. Though i am pleased to say that there are still moments in songs where that old John comes through really nicely, and there are grooves aplenty on here :)
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on 21 September 2013
Another JM album that moves on from Board and Raised.

Give it chance and it is a real grower - especially when you have seen JM perform this live,it really comes to life.

A summer album for sitting outside with a beer watching the world go round and listening to.

I do hope he moves to the more blues/rock next time to give me something to listen to in winter!!
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on 19 November 2013
Different than the previous style of music of John Mayer but for this type of music it is quite nice. I became a big fan of JM due to his first releases and i consider that continuum was the highlight of his career, so after that everything sounds "not quite there". Still, paradise valley is an enjoyable CD.
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Continuum
Continuum by John Mayer (Audio CD - 2006)

Born And Raised
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