The skirmishes on John Mayer’s smart-pop Battle Studies are, to quote the lead track, “Heartbreak Warfare.” Apparently talent and success haven’t brought heartthrob Mayer romantic fulfillment. Recorded in a home, not a studio, the understated disc has a post-Fleetwood Mac late-night vibe. Take his harmlessly libidinous “Who Says” laced with Mayer’s light-fingered acoustic guitar and Steve Jordan’s discreet drums.
Taylor Swift sweetly pipes, “I can’t stop loving you,” as Mayer once again admits his romantic dysfunctionalism on “Half My Heart.” The tables are turned on him in “Assassin,” which could almost come from Richard Thompson’s pen. As for Mayer’s blues leanings, his funkified take on Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” maintains the song’s integrity.
— Bruce Sylvester