With wide-brimmed hat, long hair and desperado-style 'tache, Mayer's metamorphosis from heartthrob to hippie is a shock. But both the look and, more importantly, the sound, suit him. Steeped in Laurel Canyon classicism, Born and Raised is one of those records for mornings when the only thing on the to-do list is thinking - mistakes made, blessings counted, truths accepted.
Opener Queen of California sees Mayer heading West with "a song in the back of my soul that no one knows" and also referencing Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell in the lyrics. There are magic sprinkles of pedal and lap steel guitar, harmonica and trumpet across the songs, with guest appearances by David Crosby and Graham Nash on the title track's sublime stocktaking of the soul. And, while Mayer is an excellent soloist, the guitar playing is, with the exception of Only a Face to Call Home, suitably low-key.
That song, Something Like Olivia and The Age of Worry have the strongest links to his poppier moments, but elsewhere Born and Raised is worthy of shelf or disk space near its biggest inspirations and paints Mayer as a man who's not too worried about what anyone else thinks. More power to him.