John Mayer, “Shadow Days”
Born and Raised, 2012
I just…I just don’t know anymore. If John Mayer can release an average song, then what hope is there for anyone?! Because that’s what this song is, drearily average, in every respect.
The release of Shadow Days was delayed due to Mayer’s vocal surgery late last year, and according to his blog, his upcoming tour has also been put off to give his vocal chords some time off.
It starts off nicely enough, Mayer-esque soft rock with a country edge (is that a slide guitar in the background?), but quickly falls flat with the entrance of the vocals. Usually renowned for his clever lines, there is none of his lyrical flair in the verse:
“But you find yourself alone/ Just like you found yourself before/ Like I found myself in pieces/ On the hotel floor”
The lack of any interesting backing (a fairly standard set of drums, bass, organ….), exposes the weak lyrics even further. Mayer’s vocals are, thankfully, strong as ever- his distinctive, slightly husky, bluesy voice obviously hasn’t taken a hit from the surgery.
The chorus picks up a little with the addition of the slide guitar guitar lending the song some well needed dynamics. The tempo lifts and the melody is old school Mayer- catchy, memorable, easy going. It’s likeable enough, but not anything special.
It’s only at the bridge that things get interesting. The slide returns and delivers a short but sweet solo, moving up through the keys, and then Mayer treats us to a nice acoustic break. The last few choruses don’t deliver much, they don’t vary in volume, no new instruments are introduced. They’re nice, all the same.
There’s nothing specifically wrong with this song, it’s quite lovely in a lot of ways. It seems John has finally woken up to the fact that he might be a bit of an idiot on occasion, and this is seemingly his song of repentance (perhaps it’s a sly nod to Taylor Swift’s song Dear John, in which she lyrically disembowels him- although Swift’s song is infinitely better than Shadow Days).
If this song was a middle track on his upcoming album, everything would be fine- but it is not single material.
It’s easy listening, and pretty boring.
He also needs to get rid of that new hat.