Though Paradise Valley, recorded post-throat surgery, is significantly more upbeat than 2012's Born and Raised, like its predecessor it finds John Mayer creating gentle singer-songwriter fare marinated in earthy, classic rock flavor. Not surprisingly, the most obvious example is the decidedly faithful cover of the J.J. Cale chestnut "Call Me the Breeze." But there's also lazy country rocker "Waitin' on the Day," whose closing guitar solo recalls Brothers and Sisters-era Allman Brothers Band, and "You're No One 'Til Someone Lets You Down," which features playful pedal-steel work that would sound right at home on a dusty old Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young or Gene Clark album.
But while Mayer through the years has proven to be a fairly astute student of both the Boomer rock and electric blues canons, the rustic music heard on Paradise Valley (as well as Born and Raised) also needs to be understood as a savvy reaction to the pop marketplace's current embrace of vintage-sounding folk and country rock. From Mumford & Sons to The Avett Brothers, Father John Misty to Ray LaMontagne, Hiss Golden Messenger to Jonathan Wilson, old school/rootsy flavors have made an impressive commercial comeback over the last several years, a trend that certainly echoes throughout Paradise Valley.