Keeping things spicy over here by introducing a new artist to the classic Salty Ju feature where I recap an album track by track and relate every song back to my own personal experiences. And then I judge those songs based on absolutely 0 musical expertise. JOIN ME, WHY DON’T YA?! It’s John Mayer’s first album since 2017 and it’s a short one but I welcome it with open arms because who doesn’t love an 80’s cassette player aesthetic and a breakup album. For those of you who are in the know, J.May’s 2006 album Continuum is the greatest breakup album of all time and though it will never be topped, I feel like this is the first time John has inched back to the genius of that all-time classic both musically and lyrically speaking. So let’s hop right in and sob our faces off (shout out Taylor Swift and John for really coming in hot with the soundtracks to our hearts being shattered into a million pieces this year.)
- Last Train Home.* John’s first single off of Sob Rock and what a musical snack it is. When it was first released I tweeted this:
And I still stand firmly behind that. Guy’s clearly got a thing for trains but thank God he went for the uppers this time around when using locomotive imagery. We’ve got a little Toto’s Africa vibe to it with the funky instrumentals and it just makes you want to wiggle your hips. Simple song with a nice hopeful message that Johnny boy will find his wifey and ride that train right on into a home filled with kids. I guess kinda sad because he’s pushing 45 and clearly wants to settle down now but certainly not as sad as Stop This Train which is about how we all die and he doesn’t want to. So, like I said, much more of a bop in the train category of tunes. Plus… there’s only about 3 seconds at the very end of Maren Morris doing backup vocals, which is really all we need. Thank you for your time, Maren.
Best Lyric: “I’m not a fallen angel, I just fell behind”
Here’s the music video, which was absolutely nothing special and could’ve been much better but further gives off that throwback vibe to set the tone for this album.
2. Shouldn’t Matter But It Does.* Oooohh baby, this is a great little ditty to really get in your feels with. You wanna know the WERST part of a breakup? That you feel ALL of the things and you can’t do anything to stop it. All anyone wants to do is not care afterward and yet it’s actually SUPER hard to not care. Show me a person who says they’re carefree and I’ll show you a liar because that person does not exist This is a lovely slow jam with a dose of real talk lyrics about all the things that you feel or think about after a breakup that you want to not feel or think about but that’s life, man…no control I tell ya. There’s all kinds of kinds when it comes to breakup songs and as we’ve seen with the popularity of Olivia Rodrigo’s “Good 4 U” the post-breakup rage is alive and well. But sometimes after your twenties, you need a little more lowkey rage and you just wanna listen to something a scooch more mellow passive aggressive and text your ex: hey, this shouldn’t matter but I’m listening to John Mayer on my bathroom floor at 3 am with a bottle of wine and guess what it DOES matter.
Best Lyric: You shoulda been sad instead of being so fucking mean. (BURN CITY TIMES A ZILLION.)
3. New Light. I was a little thrown off when I was giving Sob Rock my first blind listen that he included songs he released literally three years ago. Kinda a boner kill when you’re excited to discover new songs and you hear one that not only has been out for several years but also kinda stinks. Never been a huge fan of New Light. It’s a little *too* experimental with what I can only imagine are computer-generated sounds in the background. John, my love, you’re a phenomenal guitar player – you do not need all these bells and whistles to make a song “breezy.” Although I am a real sucker for a groove break, which this song has right before John rips a tasty solo lick. I do love that John’s more recent music is embracing the fact that he’s old as hell and yet still in the dating world dealing with all the bullshit us fellow singles are dealing with. He’s out here getting friend zoned…John Mayer. Friend. Zoned. Just makes him even more relatable, especially after his very un-relatable outing for being a semi-abusive douchey boyfriend in Jessica Simpson’s memoir–people don’t forget!
Best Lyric: Pushing 40 in the friend zone. (Yoikes, rough look)
And his super weird 80’s music video for this one back in 2018:
4. Why You No Love Me. This is a sad mariachi song. As soon as I heard the first grammatically incorrect “why you no love me” I was equal parts confused and hysterically laughing because I pictured John in a Mexican restaurant singing this while wearing a large sombrero. Other than that very dramatic chorus, the rest of the lyrics were legit and I mean come on, the album is called sob rock…this certainly fits the bill. The end of this song sounds like a 90’s TV show theme song coming to a close. Oddly specific but that’s exactly what I thought of, like oh ok Growing Pains is about to start.
Best Lyric: Hurt me once, I let it be / Hurt me twice, you’re dead to me / Three times makes you family. WHAT A GREAT PLAY ON WORDS HERE. No one hurts you like family does so guess you’re part of my family now, bitcc!
5. Wild Blue. Your jazzy insert to this album. Groovy beat and all about that jam band life but kind of an eh song overall. Since I don’t have much to say about this song, I’ll tell a fun story. This past week I was rehashing to my dad how my staff meeting zoom call got all sorts of awkward when an impromptu game was added to share what’s on your desk at home that you would bring to your desk at work. There was minimal sharing and a whole lotta dead air, and my dad’s response was “you should’ve said check out my Steely Dan.” And I was like why would I randomly bring up 70’s rock band Steely Dan during my staff meeting. And my dad goes you know how they got their name right? Obviously I did not. It was the name of a vibrator. YA LEARN SOMETHIN NEW EVERY DAY I TELL YA. Not only is that a fire flames name for a battery operated boyfriend but ALSO a great band name. Win, win for all. Can confidently say I will not be bringing vibe talk to the table amongst my work colleagues but what a fun piece of music trivia to insert into this blog that should be passed along for generations to come as we’re reelin’ in the years. (wink.) Also, if you didn’t enjoy my story, enjoy John dancing awkwardly to this song via his Tok.
Best Lyric: This entire verse is art: All the tears I meant to cry / Dance across the evenin’ sky / And in my sorrow, I can see / That missing you belongs to me
6. Shot In The Dark.* A catchy tune and wOrLd’S cOLLiDiNG, it is *heavily* rumored that several of the lyrics in this song are nods to Taylor Swift. I don’t subscribe to the belief that John Mayer is nearing his 50’s and is looking back wistfully on Taylor Swift hoping for a second chance. But I do believe that he loves pop culture and appreciates a nod for intrigue or chatter. I think Taylor was probably young and naive and John Mayer is a reputable star and when they worked together, they hooked up and Taylor took it much more seriously than it was and was heartbroken and John was casj and cool as a cuke about it. Taylor wrote Dear John which was most obviously about him right down to featuring guitar that sounds like a John Mayer song. It was not subtle. I definitely don’t think Dear John keeps J.May up at night but he did look like a real creep after it came out, so if intertwining his music with Taylor’s again clears his name, I’m sure he’d be willing to give it a shot. Taylor’s song Getaway Car has the lyric “we never had a shotgun shot in the dark” so this could potentially be a play on that. Regardless of if there’s any intentional wordplay here, it’s a bangerang of a song. John was killin em with smoove lyrics about love and breakups way before Taylor ever was and he’s reaffirming that with this album.
Best Lyric: I’ve loved seven other women and thеy all were you.
Enjoy this music video featuring some quality and highly entertaining John dance sequences:
7. I Guess I Just Feel Like. Another cheat song originally released two years ago. This one I like better than New Light probably because I’m such a Positive Polly. That was sarcasm, guys…this song is depressing AF. It’s basically a stream of consciousness or a classic diary entry of like everything in the world sucks now, I have too many worries and I’m alone. YOIKES. This is a song exclusively for days when you have a real aggressive case of the poor me’s. Listen to it, nod your head soulfully, then shake it off and go find a butterfly or something nice to remind you why you’re not on suicide watch. At least the end of the song has a hopeful spin. John’s like HAHA it’s ok guys no need to do a wellness check, I just felt like giving up but I’m gonna find my way so don’t you worry about me. ALL GOOD!
Best Lyric: That love’s gonna save us from a world that’s gone mad.
8. Til The Right One Comes.* Oh jeeze we needed this pick me up after that debbie downer. Classic rock vibes here as John tells us that he’s actually not going to die alone. He’s just waiting for the right lady. He’s not going to just dive into bed with whoever these days, he’s looking for that forever kind of love and she’s just around the damn corner so everyone just reeeelaxxxxxxx. I admire John’s positivity here and also may I take a moment to really appreciate how guitar heavy this album has been. I feel like pop, rock, and country songs rarely include an instrumental bridge and it’s refreshing to have a moment in each of these songs to just bop right along.
Best Lyric: As if I woke up lonely one morning / Looked around and decided I would stay that way. AND Headed the wrong way down that highway of dreams. (I couldn’t choose just one, sue me.)
9. Carry Me Away. Apparently this was released in 2019. Honestly I don’t think I’ve heard it. Also can we make it a law going forward that if you’re going to do a BIG lead up to an album drop, lots of press, merch, a tour, etc. the album has to be 100% new songs. None of this recycling shit. If I’m going to get hyped up this hard I want 10 brand spanking new unheard songs. I know you can sit down and write a smash-hit breakup song in a few hours, so this was just a lazy move here. This song is decent but didn’t knock my socks off. It’s certainly no Ravioli Shoes and I think we all can agree.
Best Lyric: You’re just the kinda crazy I’ve been lookin’ for.
10. All I Want Is to Be with You.* Strong finish with a fresh jam. I would’ve been MAD online if he closed out the album with a recycle. I love him singing in the lower register here and the way he breaks up/the cadence of “All I Want Is to Be with You.” I’m sure there’s a real fancy musical term for this, but you get what I’m saying right? The way he sings it with the guitar strums matching up is chef’s kiss. Also just in general the low guitar notes here. It feels kinda like Johnny Cash song and I’m here for it. Full disclosure, I called my dad at 9:30 last night to ask if this was a guitar or a bass because I didn’t want to be like damn he’s really slappin that bass and it sounds amazing and be completely wrong. So moral of the story is the efforts I put in (and really my dad puts in) to make this blog accurate are top tier. You’re welcome.
Best Lyric: I dance alone with deja-vu / But all I want is to be with you.
Overall Sob Rock Note: I know I gave J.May a lot of shit for bringing back old songs but I assume he did so because of the theme of this album and the cohesive story he wanted to tell. It’s not often that you can listen to an album front to back anymore and I feel like he really nailed it with this one. I listened to it on repeat all weekend and never pulled a skiperoni, plus it was rainy as shit this weekend so honestly the mood lined up perfectly. It’s like John Mayer knew this summer was going to be gloomy and depressing and was like ASSEMBLE, TEAM, IT’S TIME FOR SOB ROCK. It’s also not lost on me that Sob could stand for Son of a Bitch, which the press has really made John Mayer out to be over the years (the press and Jessica Simpson.) He’s had quite the reputation as womanizer controlling pee-drinking crapface…I may have gone a little off the cuff there but I think the older John gets, the wiser he gets when it comes to relationships and love. Yeah breakups are literally the pits, but that shouldn’t stop you from finding the right one but maybe proceeding with caution. FIND THAT LAST TRAIN HOME, JOHN! We’re rooting for you.