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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 15 December 2009
OK this may not be a ground breaking revolutionary step forward in the history of popular music, but come on - it's John Mayer. This may not be the greatest thing he's ever recorded, but it's pretty good - very good if by anyone else. Stick it in your car on a long journey, or your ipod dock when you're having a bath and it's fantastic.

This is what John Mayer does. Provide great radio friendly tunes, full of class and fun. And why is everyone so freaked out by Crossroads - it's only 2 1/2 minutes long! I think it's quite a funky little tune - he's not pretending to be Clapton.

I thoroughly recommend this album. The guitar playing is tasteful, the tunes are good and the lyrics have as much meaning as you need.
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on 29 January 2010
I got this album on pre order and was initially quite disapointed. I thought the songs were bland and John had taken a step back from his work on Continuum. I persevered with it though and while I can't say it's as good as his last record there are some genuinely interesting tracks on here.
There is a feeling of confidence when you listen to the songs, as usual with Mayer's releases the quality of the writing remains high throughout, stand out tracks for me are Assassin - reminds me of Sting's best stuff and has a beautiful guitar solo ; Half of my Heart - not so sure about Tayor Swift's part but it's a snappy country/pop song ; Heartbreak Warfare - great groove, thoughtful lyrics and believe it or not, Crossroads - everyone seems to be slating it but I think he's done something interesting with a classic track, it's contemporary and Steve Jordan's drumming is a perfect fit as ever. I can also say, having caught one of the dates on this tour, that these songs translate very well live.
I think this is an album to invest some time in. It's not the instant classic that Continuum was but it's a genuinely well written and interesting pop record from a guy who, in my opinion, is one of the most talented songwriters of his generation.
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on 4 January 2010
I've been a John Mayer fan for a while now (since "Heavier Things", I guess), and while he's always walked a pretty fine line between commercial pop and more substantial musical endeavours, I've never seen much merit to the sorts of criticism he seems to attract in the states- he's never seemed quite the MOR pretty-boy barely-better-than-the Backstreet-Boys sugary pop crooner horror people have made him out to be. His lyrics were *just* clever enough, his songwriting *just* strong and original enough to keep him credible.

Of course, in the context of THIS album, a lot of that criticism makes sense. Unnecessary string sections, wimpy, mushy, reverb-y production (by world-renowned DRUMMER Steve Jordan), rent-a-celeb duet with someone (Taylor Swift) from the other side of the credible/commercial divide (assuming JM's still on the "credible" side- I'll wait for the next album...), and songs and lyrics that are among the blandest he's produced. It's not a BAD album, it's just not that good. Having said that, I quite liked what he did with "Crossroads", which seems to have been pretty universally hated by other reviewers.

I read somewhere that one of the aims of this album was for Mayer not to "hide behind" his guitar playing. Personally, I've never really thought of JM as someone who could be accused of that. If anything, I find myself wanting MORE "hott lixx" on his records, not less. Considering how many rock guitarists name-drop the great bluesmen as influences, as JM does, it's rare to hear one who learned the lesson of restraint, and John is one- his guitar playing has always been tasteful and never showy, and it's a shame that he felt that wasn't adding to his music, since to my mind the fact that he can play his instrument with real skill and class and balls is one of the things that sets him above the manufactured commercial dross his critics would lump him in with.

If you're new to John Mayer, may I recommend that you spend your money on "Heavier Things" or "Continuum" (or Room For Squares, which is still better than this, although not as good as his other albums). If you're a John Mayer completist, you can purchase this album safe in the knowledge that you'll hear plenty of things this year far, far worse than this. Maybe it's a grower. As I hinted earlier, it would be sad to see John settle in to some sort of MOR Michael-Buble-of-the-blues thing (sorry, Buble-philes), and the strength of his previous work merits cutting him some slack pending his next offering, but this album was a disappointment. I hope to hear John with his guitar strapped back on and his balls re-attached in a couple of years.
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on 17 November 2009
Let me start by saying I love John Mayer. I have everything he has ever done, seen him in concert etc, etc. But if you thought "who says" was average like I did then the rest of the album is the same. heartbreak warfare is good, his version of crossroads is just plain awful. This is an average Cd and his worst so far. I like the fact that JM has tried to change the syle of music a little bit with every CD and has even been a bit adventurous by middle of the road standards, but this is as middle of the road as middle of the road gets and mostly the songs are just forgettable. So a decent effort by other peoples standards, but not by his. Great for the background at dinner parties, coffe shops etc. It's disappointing if you are a fan and used to his very high standards, but for a new fan it'll probably be a good introduction.
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on 14 November 2014
Ok. So I'm a massive Mayer fan and I'm hardly likely to criticise his work. But the real reason for that is because his work is simply so varied and of a high standard. this guy has a fantastic voice, is an awesome guitar player and a prolific song writer. This album is worth the purchase price for the track "assassin" alone. Enough said.
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on 31 January 2010
After viewing the many bad reviews of Battle Studies I was disappointed, because I was looking forward to John's new album, but if I had taken notice of them I would have missed a wonderful and beautiful set of songs/ballards.
Yes Crossroads is not my favourite but its not a bad version, I have heard worse (just listen to most of the UK top 10 singles).
Buy it, let it grow on you it will!
I think its as good as Continuum, but in a different way.
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on 17 December 2009
Sorry guys, but I am totally at odds with my fellow reviewers here; this album is great!!!

Yes, the style changes somewhat, but its unmistakeably John Mayer; and therefore any fan of John's music should love this album after a couple of plays. I think its second only to 'Try!', which is my favourite. (especially the DVD version)

Favourite tracks include 'Half of my Heart' and 'Perfectly Lonely'.

There's not a huge amount of guitar work here, just a collection of very cleverly crafted songs, from a musical genius. Am I biased? You betcha......

If you love good music, don't hesitate to buy a copy; or better still, catch him 'live' in concert in the New Year.
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I can't help but feel that there is a little more
unkindless in the air regarding John Mayer's new
album 'Battle Studies' than he really deserves.

One does not buy a recording by Mr Mayer expecting
originality and innovation. It is not his territory.

What we are given here is a collection of eleven
perfectly-formed and easily digestible pops songs
and I cannot find it in my heart to believe that
this should be considered such a terrible crime.

There are those who are born to drive fast on the right
or the left of the road and there are others who are
content to cruise defiantly straight down the middle lane.

Mr Mayer does no great disservice to the middle-of-the-road.

The melodies are strong and not always as predictable as
a first hearing might suggest. 'All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye'
is a fine case in point; the harmonic structure of the chorus
is simple but delightful; the chord-changes in the verses
satisfyingly elusive. It is a lovely song.

'Assassin' is another fine composition driven along by
Steve Jordan's beautifully measured percussion.
Subtlety and emotional power are delivered in equal measure.
The voice is strong and sure; the guitar solo economical.

'War Of My Life' could not, for a moment, pretend to be
anything other than what it is : a string of world-weary
cliches stitched together into some semblance of a song.
The strange thing is, the final result is totally convincing.

I'd have been tempted to throw 5 stars at the project had it
not been for the somewhat lacklustre 'Half Of My Heart' and
'Perfectly Lonely'; both too ordinary to have warrented inclusion.

These minor lapses in judgement are redeemed by the ravishing
little song 'Do You Know Me' (best track by a mile) and 'Edge
Of Desire', another fine composition which takes time to reveal
the warm heart at its centre. Cracking stuff!

Musical support is sympathetically robust throughout.
Nice to find Ian McLagan playing keyboards on a good
half-dozen of the tracks.
Pino Palladino's lyrical bass guitar playing also deserves
a special mention all its own.

All-in-all a redoubtably workmanlike collection for which
Mr Mayer deserves both our applause and admiration.
There is very little to be ashamed of here.

Recommended.
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on 19 November 2009
After his 2008 live album (Where The Light Is) in which, barring the acoustic opening, all the tracks not featured on any of his albums were all excellent blues performances, as well as some bluesy tracks of Continuum, I was not expecting an album like this. "Perfectly Lonely" has a blues element to it, and is a standout track, and most blues fans will instantly recognise the song "Crossroads", but Mayer's cover does Johnson's no credit at all, though saying that there is an excellent performance with Clapton on YouTube of this song, but why is this version on the album?!

The first single "Who Says" is not bad, and because of this it stands out against the rest, though put it in any of his other albums and it would probably go unnoticed. The songwriting in the album isn't up to his usual standard. The rest of the songs on the albums are entirely forgettable, and has dragged the standard of the album way down.

I think part of the problem is that, with his studio albums, especially Continuum, he has set himself up for this fall. Fingers crossed he can pick himself up with something better next time around.
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on 27 January 2014
I'm with PDCMAN here! I have all of John Mayer's studio albums and a couple of live albums too so of course I'm biased as well! This album flies a little under the radar as it is usually Continuum and Room For Squares that people talk about. But if you're a fan of great songwriting, excellent, tasteful guitar playing (if you want John for guitar work buy Try or Where The LIght Is) and warm, soulful singing you really can't go wrong with this. All the songs are great especially Heartbreak Warfare and Perfectly Lonely. Mayer is a very special talent. He has never made a bad record. That's not saying that they are all as good as each other. New to him? I recommend buying in this order: Continuum, Where The Light Is (Live), Room For Squares, Born & Raised, Battle Studies, Paradise Valley and then Heavier Things (which has the brilliant Daughters). Another great live album is Try. A good word to end on....TRY
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