Artist: John Mayer
Album: The Village Sessions
Year Released: 2007 - Aware /
Genre: Rock / Blues
Rating: (4/4) Awesome
Ahhhh, John Mayer. I must preface this review by stating that I love John Mayer, and his work. He is a talented and dynamic artist, despite his broody demeanor. I only wish that my own talents equaled half of his.
That being said, I recently picked up this little compilation (it is technically speaking an EP) of acoustic beauty from my local independent music store. It appears that the music industry, is trying to give support to the people that really make up their listening base (independent record store patrons / owners) through a movement they call Think Indie. They have come up with a series of limited release albums that are only available at "select retailers". This album is just such an album, so - you won't find it at Best Buy, or iTunes.
However, this means the songs on this album - 6 in all, have all been previously released on other albums. No "new" material here. But you have never heard these songs like this before. All of them are low-key, intimate, acoustic versions that shine brightly with quality workmanship. The album was recorded at Village Studios in Los Angeles, which can only be described as infamous. The project list on their website reads like a guest list to the Grammy Awards show. And it truly shows that they know what they are doing on this album.
I have always been a believer that acoustic albums are much more difficult to produce than standard feature albums. The solo instrumentation, and limited accompaniment makes all your mistakes that much more prevalent. On this album, John and the other musicians are right on the target every time. The guitar work, is beautifully arranged, and right on the money. The vocals, and harmony’s are tried and true, and come across with perfect sustain (a credit to the recording engineer). Even the “clapping” in “Waiting on the World to Change” holds the beat with perfect timing. It feels as if you have been invited to a coffee house to watch the performance of one of the greatest musicians of his day.
There are a few moments where I thought that an acoustic version didn’t hold the full muster of the originally produced version. For example, the introduction piece on “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” didn’t quite have the fullness, and effect as the clean electric on “Continuum”. The song continued however, to be a great success straight through the slide guitar solo towards the finale. Another example was the song “Belief” where the acoustic version lacked the driving energy that the drums beat gave the original.
All together, I would definitely recommend this album, especially to the John Mayer enthusiast. Rock on John, Rock on…
Album Produced by: John Mayer and Chad Franscoviak.