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CD Reviews:  Review of  Room for Squares by John Mayer

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My Entertainment Weekly contact and fellow music geek (we'll call him Scott, because his name is Scott) tipped me off to Mayer about four or five months ago. Sounds just like Dave Matthews, he said. Tells funny stories in concert like Rufus Wainwright, he said. Needless to say, he had my attention. The album finally came out in November, and let me tell you, it's a doozy. Sounds like Matthews, oh yes. Smart, wistful acoustic folk pop in the vein of Willy Porter, David Gray and Shawn Mullins, only much better, I say. 

"'Welcome to the real world,' she said to me, condescendingly," is the opening lyric to the leadoff track "No Such Thing," and it's clear from the beginning that Mayer is somewhat of a daydreamer. There are repeated references to rude awakenings on how the world really works, especially in the song "83," in which he yearns to be, um, six years old again. Yet there's something refreshing about Mayer's naiveté, particularly on a song like "City Love," a silly love song about his big city girlfriend. Mayer's clearly learned an important lesson in songwriting, which is that if you say something the right way, it doesn't matter at all what you actually said. Witness the hook in "City Love," where he sings "And I can't remember life before her name." By itself, it's borderline cliché. Framed in those chords, with that vocal line, it's Shakespeare. Thus is the beauty of Mayer's songwriting. It's smart and practical. 

Mayer is definitely going to turn some heads with Room For Squares. It's the kind of record that fans of David Gray's White Ladder should snap up immediately, and it would even appeal to those who thought Gray's album was too programmed. Call it a chill record for John Hiatt fans, but one thing's for sure; Room For Squares is one of the best debut albums of the year, and he's only going to get bigger. Snap it up now so you can say you knew him when.

~David Medsker

other John Mayer reviews:
Any Given Thursday
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