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CD Review: John Mayer's Battle Studies 

The Deal: Singer/guitarist fails to make something memorable with his fourth studio effort.

The Good: John Mayer is one of the top guitarists today, though he's been pigeonholed into a pop-tune, radio-friendly version of himself. If you've caught his live show, you'll notice that he doesn't play a lot of those early tunes, such as "Your Body is a Wonderland." Instead, he shreds riffs, sinks his feet into the blues and lets his fretwork speak for itself. Too bad many outside of the commercial world aren't noticing. The guy had "the next Clapton" label in his grasp, but found himself on the cover of US Weekly more than Rolling Stone. The album kicks off with the jazzy pop "Heartbreak Warfare" that doesn't do much to showcase any guitar work aside from a Pink Floyd-esque solo, immediately giving the notion that Mayer is continuing down more of a pop avenue instead of showcasing his true abilitie s. The same could be said of "War Of My Life." "All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye" is the acoustic side of Mayer, showcasing more of his lyrical songwriting and a bit of falsetto. The album's first single, "Who Says," is Mayer at his finest – simple acoustic finger-picking with a soft-spoken singing vocal. He gets help from Taylor Swift on the country-tinged "Half of My Heart."

The Bad: They say no publicity is bad publicity, but let's face it, people are getting tired about hearing who Mayer is or isn't dating. He should focus on his music, stay out of the limelight of TMZ and leave the paparazzi to a different subject for a while. Mayer's cover of Clapton's "Crossroads" sounds like it had a back alley meeting with Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious" ... and Mayer's cover lost. Good idea that sounds poorly executed.

The Verdict: I thought the same about this album as I have for most – Mayer impresses with his live shows and is often invited to join legends on stage, but his studio work leaves something to be desired. If you only hear his CDs, you'd never know the talent that he has for playing guitar. I don't expect a rehash of Stevie Ray Vaughn's work, but sometimes it's OK to flaunt your talent if you've got it.

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