Norah Jones at the very core is a jazz performer and one of the greatest in recent music history, as proof by her many Grammy awards won for her debut album. On her last album she showed off what she could do in the world of country music, added a little of that flavor where possible. It's now, finally, that she dives deep into the world of indie rock music. On "The Fall" she wrote many of the songs herself, with co-writing credits going to Jesse Harris, who wrote her Grammy winning song "Don't Know Why," as well as indie rock legend Ryan Adams. The song "Chasing Pirates" is by far one of the best songs of 2009, with Norah passing on her traditional piano for a very spooky synthesizer, while adding some borderline spooky vocals. Norah has proven time and time again to be one of this generation's prolific voices and on this latest release, she has proven that her sound and her songs know no boundaries.
The mark of a great performing songwriter is the ability to strip your songs down to the bare minimum and deliver them in a way that is pure and natural. When a singer/songwriter can achieve that during their live performances, they truly have proven that their talent is for real. When you can make your live performances sound equally as good as your studio recordings, if not better, then your talent cannot be questioned. Eric Hutchinson has achieved this, with only a small arsenal of songs, in his "Sounds Like This Live" EP series. On the second of these releases, he showcases another 5 songs in their purest and rawest form. "OK, It's Alright With Me" leads the pack of tunes with an outstanding live rendition that really showcases the lyrics and the piano pop feel of the song, which as a single on the radio was incredibly well received. Holding us off with live music will only work for so long, as we await his return to the studio, but Eric Hutchinson knows how to make even familiar music new and exciting.
He certainly has a way with words, and on this album Bob Schneider keeps up the good work by delivering a new batch of clever lyrics, heartfelt stories, and tongue-in-cheek metaphors. The first single, "40 Dogs (Like Romeo & Juliet)," mixes his natural way with words with a catchy hook and makes for a surprising hit. "The Bringdown" is one of Bob's more musically interesting tracks, combining his stunning lyrical prowess with a slow groove and some guitar solos that really amaze. Patty Griffin lends a little vocal assistance on a updated reworking of the song "Changing Your Mind." Bob's from Texas which isn't far from Mexico, so his Latin flavor really shines on two classic live staples brought into the studio for the first time, "Tarantula" and "Bombonanza." The song "Trash," which leads it all off, stemmed from a songwriting game that he and fellow wordsmith Jason Mraz play through e-mail. Overall, Bob Schneider is one of the most unique singer/songwriters performing these days and on his newest album he may have proven that when you are at the top of your game, there's still room to go higher.
Joey Ryan has already astonished his listeners with his previous releases but this is the one that will put Ryan on the map. "Kenter Canyon" may be short but it's packed full of beautiful music. Sara Bareilles shows up lending background vocals on the first track "Broken Headlights," which along with "Permanent" is one of the best songs that Ryan has written. It's performance shows that he is ready to make a name for himself in the music world. Don't be surprised if before long, Joey Ryan is showing up in places you'd least expect to hear his music, like on your favorite radio station, as one of VH1's "You Oughta Know" artists, or even performing on late night television. This EP is sure to show everyone that Joey Ryan is a real deal lyricist and musician and deserving of the success that many of his peers already have achieved.
More so than ever before Motion City Soundtrack are at the top of their game. Poised to become the band at the forefront of a movement, the lyrics have become the star of each of the songs on this album. The movement they will lead is a change from emphasis on headbanging, hard crunchy guitars, and pop punk music to an emphasis on the lyrical content of the music being the driving force behind the success. No longer will a catchy guitar hook, a drum beat, or even a single clever chorus line be the deciding factor in who succeeds and who fails in the world of punk rock. Now, the entire message and delivery of that message will matter more than the sound of the music. Motion City Soundtrack have achieved more of a sound closely resembling Jimmy Eat World on this album than that of bands such as Fall Out Boy. Similar critical and popular success should follow for MCS as it did for Jimmy Eat World just a few years ago. Not that these boys aren't or haven't been taken seriously, but this album will help their fanbase branch out to other listeners that may have dismissed them as a certain type of band with a certain type of sound. Standout tracks are definitely "A Lifeless Ordinary (Need A Little Help)," Her Words Destroyed My Planet," and "Disappear." Not since their first album, which was not as widely appreciated, has MCS delivered such a potent collection of music.
The Elms are may very well be the next great American rock band. It's true that American rock music is alive an well these days, but no one does it better than The Elms do on their newest album. Every song on the album could be played on the radio right now and become a hit. The first single, "Back To Indiana" has a catchy singable hook and a relatable story. Unfortunately the message in "This Is How The World Will End" is all too true, but the upside is that the song is not about demise, but rather, about hope. The band seriously shows off their rock chops on "Strut" and their sensitive side comes out on "The Little Ways." "Unless God Appears First" and "Long Gone" are potentially the best straightforward American rock standards on the album. It's amazing how these guys slipped through the cracks and didn't hit it off big with their previous album, but then again, had they put together this string of songs then, they'd be a household name already. The bottom line is that this is quite possibly the best American rock album of 2009.
It's not often a musician comes out of nowhere to take you by surprise with his music. That musician this time is Matt Haeck, and this EP, his second release, is one of the most satisfying listens you will receive. His folksy American roots music is familiar yet still original and is delivered in an accessible way so that any music fan can appreciate it. "Drug Like The Ocean" is lyrically awesome and is further accented by the earth instrumentation. The other songs on the EP range from ambient and light to deep and dark. On "Banks And Murder," Haeck sings about an extreme account of how tough economic times can grab a hold of someone. The EP's lyrical content and musical fluidity make it timeless and make Matt Haeck one of the finest up-and-comers making music these days.
Quaint, simple music is sometimes the most intriguing. Haroula Rose doesn't need a whole lot of bells and whistles to get her point across and to create beautiful music. This EP is just a short little collection of five tracks, all of which are superbly crafted and showcase her organic talents of singing and songwriting. On the title track, Haroula's voice is the star and her lyrics make that possible. Her themes of love throughout each song connect on different levels with the listener but her message is always delivered with sonic excellence. With recent success in the female singer/songwriter world, it is quite possible Haroula Rose will be amongst the newest class of lady songstresses to make it big. After hearing these songs, it's a wonder that hasn't happened yet.
After being in a horrible, near life threatening, car crash, Will Hoge got back into the studio to record this album. "The Wreckage," with is fitting title, talks all about love and heartbreak in Will's signature southern rock and soul sound. On this album he has created some of his most lyrically perfect songs, adding to his catalogue a handful of rockers and ballads that are sure to become staples in his setlists. "Even If It Breaks Your Heart" is tearing up the airwaves and could be his most commercial success to date. Songs like "Hard To Love" and "Favorite Waste Of Time" show off his ability to mix lyrical poignancy with good old American rock 'n' roll. Even on the slower songs he connects with the listener on a level that has not been seen in his music thus far, such as in "Goodnight/Goodbye" which features guest vocals by Nashville songstress Ashley Monroe. Will Hoge has not yet put out an album that wasn't worthy of praise. Each and every time he unleashes new music on the world it's always amazing and this time it's damn near perfect.
The power pop gods are back with their third album, and this time they aren't playing it safe at all. As a matter of fact, the power pop is all but non-existent on this album. Instead, they've traded it for a more indie rock feel, heavily relying on the production and electronic elements that they have added to their repertoire. The first single "WTF?" is definitely as high energy as their previous hits, however, at time it doesn't even sound like them, not that that's a bad thing. "I Want You So Band I Can't Breathe" is the most reminiscent to their last album with similar syncopated rhythms and delivery. The most surprising song on the album is "Skyscrapers," which is a sweeping mellow ambient style song that could possibly be the best on the album. Other standouts include "All Is Not Lost" and "This Too Shall Pass" which both blur the line between their current and their old sound. OK Go is definitely at the forefront of creative alternative rock music. That they didn't stick to the same old successful formula and still managed to churn out a great album is proof positive that they are the real deal.
It's not often a talents female singer/songwriter comes around that has it so put together as Samantha Stollenwerck. This, her newest album, sounds as polished as any seasoned musician who has been at it for dozens of years. Her combination or soulful pop, acoustic playfulness, and even a bit of blues makes this album as timeless as it is inventive. Her high energy vibe and ability to connect to the listener through the lyrics is the make of an excellent musician. The album's title track as well as "Oblivious" showcase her fun and funkiness, while other tracks depict her down-to-earth sensibility. The album is as sunshine-filled as the cover photo, with just the right amount of sincerity mixed with her carefree nature, which is particularly why the album title is so fitting. Other standout songs include "Japanese Single," "One Of Your Tattoos," and "Trouble" all of which could be hits on the radio right now. Samantha is as golden as the sun, and the songs on "Carefree" are her bright rays of light shining down on all of us.
When the NEW DEAL went on hiatus a bunch of years back the whole jam band and electronic scene was dealt a low blow. But we all knew that they'd be back, we just didn't know when. This, their first release since the end of that hiatus, reminds us exactly why we love them. They are the live version of Daft Punk. Well, they play their own instruments and they don't use overdubs or samples, so they are quite different than Daft Punk, they just make us move in the same way. Two of their best compositions are featured on this live release (Deep Sun and Gone, Gone, Gone) and are performed beautifully. You can really get a sense of the high energy vibe at the show from the crowd cheers and the band interaction as the boys intermingle free form jams with their original musical. This is the next best thing to actually being there, and it sure does get you pretty close.
The king of jazz guitar is back with another ambition collection of songs. This time it's got another catchy title and is filled with many more elements to funk than ever before. Still, Charlie Hunter's signature 8-string sound is the centerpiece of the album, showcasing the brilliance and intricacy of his talent. The New Orleans style horns throughout the release bring another level of cool to the already awesome sound of the album. This disc, one of Charlie's coolest sounding collections ever, is sure to be one of the best jazz and funk albums of the year.
The last two albums released by Pete Kilpatrick Band we awesome. So it would only be fitting that they follow up those two with an equally awesome release. Well, the only thing that is not awesome about "Shapes And Sounds" is that it's only five songs long! Pete Kilpatrick and his musical buddies sure know how to put together quality collections of music. "Feel It" is classic PKB, full of catchy hooks, clever instrumentation, and their signature sound. It clocks in over five minutes, which is a change from the typical pop rock songs that Kilpatrick is used to releasing. Each song on the EP takes the band to another level musically, while still remaining true to their roots and their sound. The band will surely be adding "Dear July" and "Rock And Roll Never Changes" to heavy rotation in their live performances because they are destined to become fan favorites. Fellow Maine musician Marie Moreshead also lends her beautiful vocals as a guest on "City's Beating Heart." Hopefully this is just a prelude of the next chapter in the PKB story, because it's surely a tease to just have five new incredible songs, but it's better than having to wait!
When Jason Castro was kicked off of American Idol, it was just the career move that he needed. His debut EP, which includes an acoustic version of his debut single "Let's Just Fall In Love Again," is a testament to why he wasn't right for that competition. Don't get it wrong though, it was just the springboard he needed to make sure people knew who he was and what he could do. His must is so light and happy and sends a message of love all the time. Although he seems to fit many specific labels, his music doesn't really fit the mold of any one style. He just makes sincere and performs from the soul. His mellow voice is going to take the world by storm just as Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz have done recently, but for Jason Castro, it's not just all about the beach and the sunshine. The title track from the EP is a simple love song with a great message and the EP also features a guest appearance by bluesy singer Serena Ryder. Throughout the short EP he delivers a kind of pop rock that attracts fans of all styles of music. This EP is just a taste of what's to come and is sure to gain him more success than the title of "the next American Idol" ever could.
Trent Dabbs has been around the block a few times so he knows a thing or two about constructing albums, songwriting, and connecting with the listener. On his latest, he has managed to do all of those things with such grace and has created one of his most heartfelt recordings to date. There isn't that huge radio hit or even that cult fan favorite that everyone is going to want to hear played live at every show. Instead, he has filled the album with eight songs that have meaning and a message for both himself and the listener. The title track and "Inside These Lines" are two of Dabbs' best compositions ever. He also shared songwriting duties on this album with the freinds and musical collaborators Katie Herzig, Matthew Perryman Jones, and Ashley Monroe. All in all, Dabbs has proven yet again that a guy and a guitar and that Nashville music scene are one excellent recipe for great albums and great songs.
Passafire is an up-and-coming reggae influenced rock band that is destined to be huge. Their sound is similar to 311, Pepper, and State Radio and their songs are so radio friendly, it's hard to believe they are not all over the airwaves right now. This, their third album, is their best to date, with every song on the album showing off a different strong suit of the band. Their musicality is equal to a band who has dozens of years of experience and touring under their belt. The lyricism on the album is catchy and singable, two incredible qualities that make the music marketable. "Here In Front Of Me" is one of the best reggae rock songs that has been written in recent years, particularly from a band that isn't on a major label. Songs like "Queen Of Spades" and "49th" could also easily be heard on modern and alternative rock radio right now. Great things are abound for Passafire, and this album will help them to lead the way for the new generation of awesome alternative rock bands.
STS9 keep on reinventing themselves while still remaining true to their core character as an old school jam band. Boldly diving into the 21st century, STS9 is amongst the very few jam bands able to harness the power of electronic music and perform it as a live band. On their latest album, and frankly their most future-forward, the band channels the energy usually displayed during their live sets. The album has both the feel of a live show and a DJ set, with each song being displayed as a sonic work of art. Nothing holds this band back as the syncopated drumming, haunting keyboards, and rhythmic guitars in each and every song tell a story without the use of lyrics. The most precious masterpieces contained within this album are "Looking Back On Earth," "EHM," and "Oil & Water," all of which, and at different moments, could have been performed by the Grateful Dead or the Chemical Brothers. With the new indie movement leaning towards electronic rock, and bands like Animal Collective and Passion Pit spearheading the way, STS9 is bound to garner some widespread critical success on the heels of "Ad Explorata."
Vampire Weekend is definitely one of the most fun bands making waves these days. Their meshing of sensible pop with world music, reggae, and electronic music makes them a unique band, unlike anything out today. This album takes over right where their critically acclaimed debut left off and doesn't skip a beat. They up the ante on this one, adding synthesizers where necessary and even spice it up with some Auto-Tune. "Horchata," which they gave away for free when they announced the album to the world, is most like anything that you'd have heard on their debut. The coolest song on the album is "White Sky" with it's 80's vibe and clever lyrics. The lead single, "Cousins," is reminiscent of A-Punk but with more of an in-your-face delivery. You can definitely sense the influence of world music throughout the album stemming from lead singer Ezra Koenig's work with The Vest Best last year. In particular "Diplomat's Son" and "California English" showcase that electronic/world sound. Vampire Weekend are a breath of fresh air in a seemingly copycat music industry and this album proves that sticking with what works only gets better with time.
New music out today that is worth checking out:
- Jason Castro - The Love Uncompromised EP
- Charlie Hunter - Gentlemen, I Neglected To Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid
- Matt Morris - When Everything Breaks Open
- O.A.R. - Rain Or Shine
- OK Go - Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky
- Vampire Weekend - Contra
Australia is a mecca for mellow music. They have yet to churn out, however, a really good mellow singer/songwriter that is a female. Someone to rival the likes of Tristan Prettyman and Colbie Caillat. Well, look no further than Ashleigh Mannix. Her second EP is a short display of exactly that: mellow acoustic rock music. Her songwriting is simple, yet poignant and her songs are sing-along tunes, once you learn the words. The entire vibe of this release sets you into a mellow mood and not matter where in the world, brings you right to the beach sitting at the edge of the crashing waves. The world is currently buzzing on her latest single, "Pieces Of You," which can be found on her first EP, which can only mean that a full album of all the good stuff is on the way. It won't be long before she's a worldwide sensation, but for now we can dig on this.
Soulive's latest release marks a return to form for the trio, as this album is their most organic and original sounding since "Doin' Something." While they've had some underground hits and serious success between then and now, this album shows off what made Soulive a household name in the acid jazz world. The opening track, "Up Right," showcases the signature guitar/keys/drums sound that the band is known for with an exclamation point added by the guest horns section, musical cohorts Ryan Zoidis and Sam Kininger. Eric Krasno's guitar playing on this album is enough to rival guitar greats like John Mayer and B.B. King. There is much soul and blues throughout all that jazz, and vocals provided by guest Nigel Hall and Soulive's own Alan Evans sound like a throwback to the 60's and 70's era jazz and funk of James Brown and George Clinton. This is probably a huge statement, but this album proves that Soulive is the Jay-Z of acid jazz, and wouldn't that be a collaboration we'd all love to see happen.
Jason Reeves is an excellent songwriter as he has proven on his own releases as well as his collaborations with other artists such as Colbie Caillat and Angel Taylor. This latest EP is a testament to his songwriting, as it is all about the lyrics. There's nothing more compelling than a collection of songs with a solid lyrical foundation. Although the EP is short, with only 6 songs, it is a good "hold-you-over" kind of release for his fans. His last album was released independently and then re-released by Warner Bros. Records, so it's been quite some time since Reeves has put out new music of his own. He is the real deal, and surely can stand to be his own artist, and not just a collaborator, as is proven by this collection of tunes.
Voice and guitar is all that is needed to create an excellent album. This, the second installment of Ryan Montbleau's live series "Stages," is a stunning collection of gems from Monbleau's catalogue. Several of the best performances on the album come from tracks off of Montbleau's last full band release, showing off that they are not only filled with musical excellence, but lyrical excellence as well. "75 And Sunny," which features guest vocals from Amber Rubarth, really shows off how great a songwriter that Montbleau actually is, as the words he sings are the highlight of the song. The album finishes up with an acoustic studio recording of a new song called "More And More And More" and also features a cover of a Paul Simon song. You can really get an idea of how great he is as a performer as well, as the album is filled with the lovely sounds of the audience from each of the shows that the compilation was pulled from. Montbleau really shows off his core as a performing singer/songwriter, making this album one of the best live releases of 2009.
It is quite possible that Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad is one of the best live dub reggae bands on the jam scene today. This album, the band's first live release, one ups their debut studio album by delivering a high energy collection of well crafted, superbly performed tunes in the way they were meant to be heard: live and uninhibited. "Seasons Change" sounds like anything you would hear coming straight from the island of Jamaica. The retro feel of each track on the album is reminiscent of reggae greats of the past including Bob Marley and Lee "Scratch" Perry. You will find yourself getting lost within the groove of each song. The shows that these gems were plucked from must have been awesome to be a part of, and it's a shame that the rest of the music created on each of those occasions couldn't be a part of "Live Up!"
Ever since Mike Doughty decided to do the solo thing he has been reinventing himself. Each album he has released as a solo artist started sounding less and less like Soul Coughing and more and more like a unique unrelated artist (with the same voice, of course). This latest effort is his most individual album yet. Lacking a substantial backing band, Doughty performed most of the songs completely on his own. In fact, many of the tracks are just Mike and a guitar. This mostly acoustic album features some of Mike's best lyrical compositions, including "Pleasure On Credit" and "(He's Got The) Whole World (In His Hands)." The unique song titles, like the first single "(You Should Be) Doubly (Gratified)," are right in line with Doughty's quirky nature as he once again blurs the line between alternative rock and folk music. This time around less is more and Mike Doughty shows off what it is to be a true musician and performer.
Success came easy for OneRepublic on their first album. With the backing of super-producer Timbaland, it wasn't hard to get the exposure that they needed to break out. Now that they've become a household name, it's time to prove that they're not just a one hit wonder. With their second album, which is heavy on the production side, OneRepublic has reproduced the exact formula that got them where they are today. Well crafted, well executed songs fill the entire album with lyrics that are both poignant and singable. The first single, "All The Right Moves" is surely an album standout, but it's not the best of the bunch. "Secrets" is the song that will skyrocket this band back into the spotlight for sure. However, it's "Everybody Loves Me" and "Good Life" that show off the band at their best and most creative on this album. They've definitely proven they have staying power, and with this album they have defined themselves as a band, not just as the guys who sing that song "Apologize."
This young, up-and-coming jam band has released a brilliant new album that is sure to put them on the map as a serious force in the jam rock world. They are somewhere on the jam spectrum midway between Phish and O.A.R., kind of like Dave Matthews Band without the world music influence. Instead, inject a ton of funk and soul and you've got exactly their sound. This album, their best release to date, is all about having fun. Each and every song makes you want to dance, rock out, or just chill. The layers of musicality mixed with the cleverness of the lyrics shows promise that this band has what it takes to become a powerhouse. "Breaking Down" is hands down the best song on the album, however, every other song comes in a close second. Parker House And Theory are the real deal and deliver an outstanding mix of music that leaves you wanting more.
It's not often a band comes around that releases and album which grabs a hold of you and doesn't let go from start to finish. Dawes' debut album does just that. Each intricate composition is so intriguing that you can't tear yourself away from its beauty and simplicity. The lyrics drive the entire album, with a mellow alt-country, acoustic roots, and southern rock styles providing the backdrop. "Love Is All I Am" is as good as it gets when it comes to a love song. It's simple, straigtforward, and to the point, on top of being well written and performed. Other highlights include "That Western Skyline" (which Rolling Stone Magazine labeled as one of the top 25 songs of 2009) and "When My Time Comes." When it comes to excellent music, Dawes is the epitome. If you are a fan of Wilco, Conor Oberst, Bon Iver, and Fleet Foxes, you will surely be head-over-heels in love with this album.
This album, Kate Earl's sophomore release, is highly different from her first. This album is incredibly filled with flowing, poppy arrangements and much mopre heavily produced. After all, it is her debut on a major label. Her first album was much more acoustic and mellow, yet the vibe of both albums is the same. Kate Earl is out to have fun with her music while still remaining true and heartfelt. This album, like the first, has trace elements of reggae, but it's on this album that Earl dives deeper into the soulful end of her musical abilities. The standout tracks are "Nobody," "Melody," and "Golden Street" Throughout she still manages to make the music about the lyrics and the storytelling, and not just about the feel-good vibe the she displays.
It's 2010, a new decade, and THISisMODERN.net has entered the tweeting world. Follow THISisMODERN.net on twitter by visiting www.twitter.com/thisismodern! By following THISisMODERN.net on twitter you will be the first to know about all the updates on the website, as well as other possible goodies! Also, this year THISisMODERN.net is celebrating 10 years of existance by reviewing a CD a day, every day for 365 days in 2010. That's more CD reviews than have been posted in total during the first 9 years!
Supergroups are always fun. It's even better when each of the parts on its own is outstanding. The folk, country, rock, soul foursome that is Monsters Of Folk delivers an outstanding debut album of fifteen songs that are a mix of each of the group members' individual takes on music. Born out of a live tour, the band, which features M. Ward, Jim James (of My Morning Jacket), and Conor Oberst & Mike Mogis (of Bright Eyes), mixes together the cohesive harmonies of CSNY with the modern twist of 90's and 00's folk rock music. Each band member sounds so similar while singing, sometimes you never actually know who is on the mic. They gave the first single, "Say Please," away for free, quite possibly because of the entire album it's the most straightforward and simple song. The leadoff track, "Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)" is possible the best track on the entire album, simply because it's a complete departure from the folksy sounds of the rest of the disc. Mogis (who has produced albums for Bright Eyes & Pete Yorn) shared production duties on this album with the other three members of the band, which allowed for easy mixing of techniques and styles amongst the group. All in all, this supergroup may become a permanent thing, and the boys in the band have created such a successful endeavour with this album, they are sure to have to share time with their respective personal musical commitments in order to keep this thing alive. This is not the last we've heard from Monsters Of Folk.
- Samantha Stollenwerck "Oblivious"
- John Butler Trio "One Way Road"
- The Beautiful Girls "Don't Wait"
- State Radio "Calling All Crows"
- Passafire "Here In Front Of Me"
- Trevor Hall "Volume"
- Mike Doughty "Pleasure On Credit"
- Bob Schneider "Tarantula"
- Carbon Leaf "Mexico"
- Still Time "Old Soul"
- Rob Drabkin "Little Steps"
- Jon And Roy "Another Noon"
- Barefoot Truth "Damage Done"
- Piers Faccini "A Storm Is Going To Come"
- Angus & Julia Stone "And The Boys"
- Kings Of Convenience "Boat Behind"
- Ben Howard "Cloud Nine"
- Jay Farrar & Benjamin Gibbard "California Zephyr"
- Coconut Records "The Summer"
- The Drums "Let's Go Surfing"
John Mayer has grown up. Not that he was immature, but his previous albums had a bit of youthful angst and energy. He has shown that he is a superior pop songsmith, he has proven that he is a guitar hero, showcased that he's got the blues, and he's got a handul of Grammy awards to support all of those claims. On his latest album, the first of which isn't part of his self proclaimed "trilogy," he proves that simplicity is just as awesome as being in your face. He covers a Robert Johnson classic, made famous buy friend and guitar virtuoso Eric Clapton, to remind everyone that he shtill has what it takes to jam. He lets loose with his acoustic on the first single "Who Says," bringing mellow back to his arsenal in a style not heard from since his first independent release "Inside Wants Out." Love is a central theme in all of the music with two instant classics leading the way: "Heartbreak Warfare" and "Half Of My Heart" which features a guest vocal by Taylor Swift. Each song is a perfect addition to John's catalogue and the album as a whole is well written and performed. There isn't any heavy production, not a lot of musicians, and John co-produced it all with drummer Steve Jordan. John Mayer has a lot up his sleeves, but this time he isn't hiding anything.