John Mayer Trio

Columbia, 2006

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


Live albums always run the risk of mediocrity. Some end up only appealing to a band’s diehard fans; countless others suffer from bad mixing or artists sneaking back into the past to try and edit bum notes or voice cracks. It’s the rare few that manage to preserve a clear snapshot of a moment in time, creating a listenable, enjoyable experience regardless of having attended the show.

And Try! is one of the greats. The John Mayer Trio (made up of legendaries Steve Jordan on drums, bassist Pino Palladino and blues-schooled Mayer himself fronting on vocals and guitars) evokes and alternately pays tributes to the masters of electrified blues-rock: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, to name a few. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Just listening to the opening riff of “Good Love Is On The Way” as it gives way to an explosive chorus, you get the sense Mayer is finally having fun with his music. We all know how easily he could’ve revamped “No Such Thing” or “Bigger Than My Body,” lit up the charts and reaped the benefits. But sometimes there comes a point in a teen idol’s career when developing guitar chops to challenge Clapton’s and mastering the art of a silky blues groove becomes inherently more satisfying.

On this disc, Mayer trades in sugary-sweet, radio-friendly tracks like “Your Body Is A Wonderland” for covers of Hendrix’s “Wait Until Tomorrow” and Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman," nailing them both.  Even his older material (Heavier Things’ “Daughters” and “Something’s Missing”) finds new life when treated to beefed-up guitars, extended outros and Jordan’s subtle drum flourishes.

The real kicker, though? Try!’s original material holds its own right alongside Hendrix. “Gravity,” which made its way onto Mayer’s latest, Continuum, is a slow-burning stunner, allowed more space to unfold its sparse melodies and gentle chords than in its later incarnation. Slipping into an easy falsetto, “Vultures” is a smooth dig at the media while “Out Of My Mind’s” lazy pace gives way to the best of the blues.

Out of five Grammy nominations this year, Mayer maintains the most meaningful was Try!’s nod for Best Rock Album. Regardless of how credible the Grammies are these days (i.e. not very), it’s hard to scoff at a relative newcomer gaining a place next to veteran acts like Tom Petty, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Neil Young. It has been a banner couple of years for John Mayer, and Try! is the first of what promise to be many triumphs.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2007 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia, and is used for informational purposes only.