During the darkest days of the pandemic, John Mayer retreated into the comforting sounds of the 1980s. At 43, the guitar virtuoso who was raised on radio and MTV pored over the music that shaped his artistry from a young age. Today (July 16) via Columbia Records, Mayer shares Sob Rock. His eighth studio album captures the sonic signature of the era, marrying soft rock with shimmering synthetics.
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With the guiding hand of iconic producer Don Was, Mayer masterfully crafted his desired melancholic retro vibe that the album cover so perfectly captures.
Nearly 20 years after his debut album Room for Squares, his new release, Sob Rock, is Mayer’s first album in four years. While stepping back into his solo artistry, he remains committed to touring with Dead & Company. Following his existential crisis LP, The Search for Everything, in 2017, and his unexpectedly Americana-esque album, Born and Raised in 2012, Sob Rock suggests a continuation of Mayer’s boundless musical exploration.
Sob Rock opens with a well-suited synth-rock single, “Last Train Home,” featuring Maren Morris on background vocals. Nostalgia seaps through songs like, “New Light.” As he’s done many times before, the song poetically speaks to unrequited love with lines like Pushing 40 in the friend zone. But this time around, he does so while channeling his subconscious Santana influences.
Mayer told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe in an interview that he never wants to become an artist “who runs out of paint colors and begins to just make the same songs over and over again”.
He added, “I’m only interested if I get to put new paints on the canvas,” he said. “And my way of doing it at this time was: literally no one’s looking. This one’s called Sob Rock because you just would never have imagined that was the name of the record.”
On release day, Mayer also confirmed dates for a 2022 North American tour in support of the LP. The extensive excursion will begin at Albany’s Times Union Center on February 17. The guitarist will then make stops in Philadelphia on February 18, New York City on February 20, Washington D.C. on February 23, Pittsburgh on February 25, and Toronto on February 27. March dates for Mayer’s Sob Rock tour include stops in Belmont Park (New York), Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Denver.
Next, the tour continues in Sunrise, Florida on April 2 and Tampa on April 5. From there, Mayer will hit Atlanta on April 8, Charlotte on April 11, Nashville on April 13, Austin on April 20, Houston on April 23, and Dallas on April 24. The Sob Rock Tour is set to conclude at Chicago’s United Center on April 28.