Heavier Things (2003)
|Artist: John Mayer|
|John Mayer's Heavier Things arrives two years to the month after the release of the critically acclaimed artist's debut LP, Room for Squares, which has been certified triple-platinum (the album still remained in the Top 100 after 80 straight weeks on the Billboard Top 200 chart). That memorable bow contained the hit singles "No Such Thing," "Why Georgia" and "Your Body Is a Wonderland," the last of which earned Mayer a 2003 Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.|
The intriguingly titled Heavier Things was produced and mixed by the highly regarded Jack Joseph Puig, whose long list of credits includes Sheryl Crow, No Doubt, the Black Crowes and Hole. Mayer and Puig had forged a strong creative relationship when the latter was mixing half a dozen tracks for Room for Squares. A rock specialist with a feel for melodies and hooks, Puig was particularly attuned to Mayer's new material, in which the 25-year-old songwriter/musician provides himself ample opportunity to break out his electric guitars.
Heavier Things was tracked in New York, Mayer's present home, and completed at Puig's longtime L.A. headquarters, Ocean Way. In addition to the lead single, "Bigger Than My Body," the album contains several songs Mayer has been performing live. These include "Daughters," "Come Back to Bed" and "Something's Missing," all of which are well on their way to becoming crowd favorites.
Mayer has spent the two years between albums fruitfully, touring nonstop and generating massive word of mouth, which reached critical mass just as radio and the video channels were discovering the tireless young artist. Any Given Thursday, a vivid document of John Mayer the touring machine, was released in February 2003 on Columbia Music Video/Aware. The CD version is now gold, while the DVD version has achieved platinum status.
The growing body of work of this career artist also includes the 1999 independently released EP, Inside Wants Out, which was reissued on Aware/Columbia in September of last year.
Album Notes and Credits
Notes & Personnel Info
|Personnel: John Mayer (vocals, guitar); Jerry Hay (trumpet); Questlove (drums); Larry Castro, Lenny Castro (percussion); Michael Chaves (guitar); Greg Leisz (lap steel guitar); Dan Higgins (saxophone); Roy Hargrove (trumpet); Jamie Muhoberac (keyboards); Steve Jordan , J.J. Johnson , Matt Chamberlain (drums).|
|Audio Mixer: Jack Joseph Puig.|
|Recording information: Avatar Studios, New York, NY; Ocean Way, Hollywood, CA.|
|Photographer: Danny Clinch.|
|With the experience of a Grammy-winning, major-label debut under his belt and the requisite pop stardom that goes with it, John Mayer continues forging a steadily impressive musical canon with his third full-length outing, HEAVIER THINGS. Like the introspective musings of fellow, mellow pop singer-songwriters such as Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson, Mayer's songs delve into the subtleties of relationships and their accompanying navel-gazing. "Bigger Than My Body" finds him not only on a search for self, but sounding like Matthews with his hint of falsetto, as "Something's Missing" does much the same on a bed of swirling guitar and the occasionally chiming chord. As for the fairer sex, there's the requisite pleading found within the confines of the bluesy "Come Back to Bed," and the realization of loving someone with emotional baggage in "Daughters," which stems from childhood issues. All is not entirely dour, however, as this former Berkley School of Music student includes a pair of more up-tempo cuts--"Clarity," the hip-hop-brushed opener featuring jazz great Roy Hargrove and Roots drummer ?uestlove Thompson, and the hook-filled pop nugget "Only Heart." Packed with such emotional heft, it's no wonder John Mayer went with the title HEAVIER THINGS.|
Producer: Jack Joseph Puig
Engineer: Lars Fox; Chris Steffen; Ross Peterson; Jack Joseph Puig; Chad Franscoviak
Associated Artists and Works
|Release Date : 09/09/2003|
|Original Release Date : 2003|
|Catalog ID : 86185|
|Label : Aware Records (USA)|
|Number of Discs : 1|
|Studio/Live : Studio|
|Mono/Stereo : Stereo|
|SPAR Code : n/a|
|UPC : 00696998618527|
- Included in Rolling Stone's "50 Best Albums of 2003"
- 4 stars out of 5 - "...With his follow-up [to ROOM FOR SQUARES], Mayer offers an equally available yet more sophisticated album...Most of these tracks proceed more subtly, with an emphasis on interior life..."
- 3 stars out of 5 - "...'Clarity' rejoices in falsetto wailing and excellent jazz trumpet..."
- 3 stars out of 5 - "Mayer's progress is an open book, deep thoughts and all."
When John Mayer emerged from the underground in 2001 with his debut album, Room for Squares, he was a little-known 22-year-old with an acoustic guitar and boundless energy. His ascent was rapid, powered by nonstop touring and intensive word of mouth, which reached critical mass just as radio and the video channels were discovering the young artist. Two years later, Room for Squares is now triple-platinum (the album remains in the Top 100 after more than 80 consecutive weeks on the Billboard Top 200 chart), spawning three hit singles, one of which, "Your Body Is a Wonderland," earned him a Grammy earlier this year for best pop vocal performance.
Mayer's much-anticipated Aware/Columbia follow-up album, which bears the intriguing title Heavier Things, demonstrates how far this single-minded artist has come at this still-early stage of his career.
"In some ways," Mayer says, "the stakes get higher when you make a second major-label record and everyone's looking. And in some ways absolutely nothing is different, because your voice still sounds the same, and your hands still feel the same on the guitar. You just write your songs. You're just a guy with a guitar putting in a Thai food order at 9 p.m."
The 25-year-old Mayer possesses a remarkable clear-headedness—fittingly, the new album opens with a song titled "Clarity"—and the rarefied level of consciousness that distinguishes this artist's songs has as much to do with their impact as his gift for melody, elevated musicianship or disarming personality. All of these elements, by the way, are present in spades on Heavier Things.
The album was produced and mixed by Jack Joseph Puig, whose credits include Sheryl Crow, No Doubt, the Black Crowes, Hole and smart-pop progenitors Jellyfish.
"Jack understood what I wanted to do next," Mayer says of his decision to work with Puig. "We had met by way of friendship, not connections. I don't like pulling connections in; I'd much rather make friends. He understands the romance of making records. Jack and I pushed each other to the limits of our knowledge, and that's why the record is as fresh as it is. There are raw decisions made outside of the comfort zone of past achievement."
Heavier Things was tracked in New York, Mayer's present home, and completed at Puig's longtime L.A. headquarters, Ocean Way. In addition to the lead single, the propulsive, hook-packed rocker "Bigger Than My Body," the album contains several songs Mayer has been performing live on his 2003 summer tour of amphitheaters and arenas, and they've become immediate crowd favorites. These include the poignant "Daughters," the smoldering, blues-based "Come Back to Bed," the evocative "Wheel" and "Something's Missing," which climaxes with a timely and ingenious things-to-do-today inventory.
Mayer's longtime bass player David LaBruyere appears on all tracks apart from the virtually solo acoustic "Daughters," while keyboardist Jamie Muhoberac plays on eight. Guest musicians include legendary jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove, drummers Matt Chamberlain, Steve Jordan and ?uestlove from The Roots, percussionist Lenny Castro and horn player Jerry Hay. Also present are guitarist Michael Chaves and drummer J.J. Johnson from Mayer's touring band.
"I came off the road after two years of straight touring and knew exactly what kind of record I wanted to make—it wasn't an accident," Mayer says of the process that led to the creation of Heavier Things. "I wanted to write songs this time that always felt good under my hands, no matter what. The only real criterion for the record was, 'Is it fun to play? Is it physically fun to feel the vibration of the strings or the feel of my throat when I'm singing it?' If an idea didn't meet that criterion, it got dumped.
"This record is as different from the last one as I am from the last time I made a record," he adds. "What that amount is, I don't know, and I'm really interested to find out."
Inside Wants Out (1999; reissued on Aware/Columbia in September 2002)
Room for Squares (original Aware version released April 2001; Aware/Columbia final version released September 2001; certified triple platinum)
Any Given Thursday DVD (February 2003; certified platinum)
Any Given Thursday, (February 2003; certified platinum)
Heavier Things (September 2003)
"No Such Thing"
"Your Body Is a Wonderland" (won 2003 Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance)
"Bigger Than My Body"
Customer Reviews of Heavier Things
A New Look9/12/2003
From its opening song, "Clarity," one can tell that John Mayer has adopted a strict departure from Room For Squares. After my first listen to this album, I was disappointed, after having been enthralled by the highly acoustically-driven John Mayer I was used to. I gave it another chance, and after a closer listen, found a new John, one who had abandoned the highly impressive acoustic work he showcased on such songs as "Sucker" and "Why Georgia." He is now more clearly interested in his lyrics, which at the same time succeed at being thought-provoking and honest, with few exceptions. This leads to my reason for giving the album only 4 stars. John Mayer may grow into the Bob Dylan of our generation, (though with a better voice)but Bob Dylan he is not. His sincerity in some songs come off as merely trite and sappy, e.g. "Come Back to Bed" and "Split Screen Sadness," which I'm sure will eventually work their way into my "skip list." Pros: "Clarity" - Best song on the album, best song of the year. "Bigger Than My Body" - Though reminiscent of his earlier fare, that's not necessarily a bad thing. "Wheel" - Brilliant songwriting. "Daughters" and "Something's Missing" - Anyone overly familiar with Mayer will know these songs are worth their salt. Cons: "Come Back to Bed" - Slow, sappy. Sounds too much like country for my tastes. "Only Heart" - I sense John had big plans for this song, as a revisiting of many retro themes. It's not BAD per se, it just doesn't fulfill its heady intention. Verdict: If your favorite John Mayer songs were "No Such Thing" or "Neon," you may be disappointed with this album; it marks a very different musical stage. Think more along the lines of "St. Patrick's Day" for the most part, but with more substance and a revolutionary feel. Mostly excellent.
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