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Aural Pleasure Review

John Mayer: 'Born and Raised'

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It only took an infamous 2010 Playboy interview for John Mayer to go from sweet, guitar-shredding heartthrob to major misogynist/racist asshole. Even though he apologized for those David Duke-cock and I-want-to-snort-Jessica-Simpson comments, the damage was done. Not that the controversy has affected his ability to write killer songs and play a mean guitar, even on his most tender ballads. Born and Raised, recorded just before his throat operation in October 2011, has a mellow Mayer taking turns being apologetic and scathing. "I ain't no troublemaker/ and I never meant her any harm," he sings in the slide-filled gem "Shadow Days," but he follows it with "it sucks to be honest/ it hurts to be real/ but it's nice to make some love/ that I can finally feel." Ouch. Not surprisingly, producer Don Was knows who Mayer is: a rare case of someone who excels at writing, playing, and singing, and he is allowed to do just that, without any interfering studio gimmicks. "Now the cover of a Rolling Stone/ ain't the cover of a Rolling Stone," he sings in the folkish "Speak for me." I could add that now a newspaper ain't a newspaper, but that's for another story. What the story is now is that Born and Raised is Mayer saying sorry and fuck you at the same time. Which is the right thing to do.

★★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)

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