I feel like I’m old enough now that I’ve been through an entire spin cycle with John Mayer and come out the other end able to appreciate him for being quite excellent at his job. It takes a moment of reflection to step back and remember that Mayer been with us for a very long time and managed to stay relevant for most of it. That’s the thing about this guy; even when he’s trying to fly under the radar, he’ll put out another killer piece of pop music and it’ll be impossible to ignore him again. All of the ups and down and fast cars and famous breakups and infamous Rolling Stone interviews are pretty much window dressing for a dude who’s been impressing the best in the game since he was a teenager. Last week, our sister messaged us from Washington raving about Mayer’s latest release (an EP) and in particular, this song. I wasn’t expecting something life-changing. And it isn’t life-changing. But not every song has to be life-changing. Sometimes it just has to be really good. As it turns out, I was going through a period of life which seemed to align perfectly with the sentiment of the thing. So perhaps I am ascribing a higher meaning to it all, but even a fortnight down the line, I still find that I really enjoy listening to it.
Guitar tone, it’s a curious thing. Many music fans that aren’t axe aficionados or devotees of a particular artist likely don’t spend much time thinking about why the same guitar can sound so varied in different sets of hands. Almost from the get-go, Mayer, who has studied the greats and made himself a particularly keen disciple of classic ’60s blues, became known for a masterful guitar tone. It’s something that really came into its own on his third record, Continuum, where he abandoned the pretence of being an indie songwriter and just went in hard for the ballads, often wringing more melodies out of his six-string than his own voice on modern classics like ‘Slow Dancing In A Burning Room‘. It’s here that we first heard what would become the hallmark of the second wave of Mayer’s sound, with a set of lead lines that oozed like lava, piercing through wide open spaces. ‘Moving On and Getting Over’ combines this with the brilliant, chunky rhythm writing of Mayer’s earliest work for a bright progression that pretty much dances off the record. for a song about heartbreak, that’s saying something for a song.
Interestingly, Mayer’s vocal performance is more restrained here than ever, relying on octave harmonies to round it out as he lets the melody do the heavy lifting that isn’t covered by the guitar. He sounds more confident and more comfortable than he has in years, fully aware that he’s got a good jam in his hands, willing to play around with phrasing in some places and follow it to the letter in others. It’s a blues song that isn’t, a break-up song that somehow struts.
Today, it could be everything you’re looking for.