Mirroring the great female singer/songwriter boom of the mid-to-late-'90s, this year is shaping up to be a pretty strong one for the men in the singer/songwriter realm, bolstered by the surprise success of David Gray and strong-selling releases by Pete Yorn and Rufus Wainwright. Atlanta's John Mayer is the latest great entry into that strong company, recently releasing his charming major-label debut, Room For Squares (Aware Records). Mayer began his career as a Stevie Ray Vaughan-loving guitar-virtuoso wanna-be, but he would eventually develop a love for songwriting and acoustic guitar backing, resulting in the mostly solo-acoustic debut Inside Wants Out. Room For Squares is fleshed-out by a full band, but is still acoustic based and very song-centric. Mayer's Pop sensibility is evident on strong cuts like "No Such Thing" and "My Stupid Mouth," which feature warm, endearing melodies that wrap around the listener's consciousness after only a few listens. Tastefully subtle, Squares is a testament to the power of gimmick-free artistry and refined craftsmanship.
John Mayer performs on Friday at Bogart's.