Album Review: ‘Sob Rock’ by John Mayer

The best album John Mayer ever made

I will do him justice and review my favorite album of his, “Sob Rock.”


I will do him justice and review my favorite album of his, “Sob Rock.”


I have been debating whether or not to write a “Top 10 John Mayer songs” list, but I don’t think I would ever be satisfied with how it turned out. So instead I will do him justice and review my favorite album of his, “Sob Rock.”

“Sob Rock” is a really fun and upbeat album full of more serious and somber tones. This was the first album Mayer released after I graduated high school and became a fan of his. Most of the songs (if not all of them) are straight out of the 1980s synthesizer-heavy song playbook.

“Sob Rock” opens up with “Last Train Home,” the album’s flagship song. “Last Train Home” is extremely similar to the smash hit song “Africa” by Toto. The percussion of the two songs share a likeness seeing as the percussionist from Toto actually toured with Mayer on his “Sob Rock” Tour last year.

John Mayer in concert bringing the house down as he does.

In the album’s second track, “Shouldn’t Matter but It Does,” the clear story being told is about the pains and sorrows of moving on from a relationship. While there are plenty of lyrics that could sum up the tune, I feel like, “It could have been always, it could have been me. We coulda been busy naming baby number three,” is the aptest description of the song as a whole.

One of my favorite features of the album is the contrast between sad songs and upbeat songs, there is almost a pattern of an upbeat song, slow song, upbeat song … etc.

“New Light” is the third song on the album and is probably the most well-known. The song came out a couple of years before the album was released so there was more time for the song to gain traction.

The fourth song, “Why You No Love Me” is as corny as the title might suggest, but it is a pretty good song overall. There isn’t a whole lot to say about this song but I think it is a good one to mention.

The next two songs (five and six on the album) are probably my favorites from “Sob Rock.” The song “Wild Blue” draws a comparison to Dire Straits, as I wrote in my Top 10 Album List. “Wild Blue” is a pretty low-key toned-down song but carries the theme of longing, with lyrics like “I found myself when I lost you” telling a story about how the narrator is coping with the breakup.

“Shot in the Dark” bounces back to the album’s upbeat tendency with a really fun balladesque song while retaining the reflective nature of looking back and pondering his previous relationships and how they could have gone better.

Structurally, I think this album is spot-on in what I am looking for in an album. There are only ten songs, and the album clocks in at about 40 minutes. I feel like some albums go on forever and don’t know when to end, but this is not one of them.

When there are only ten songs on an album, it should only include the songs that best fit the interest of the album, and I view the ten songs to do just that. Not every song from “Sob Rock” is my absolute favorite of Mayer’s, but I really appreciate how every song fits the overarching theme.

Another thing I appreciate about Mayer’s musicianship is how he plays his songs live in concert, they are usually incredible. My favorite example of this from “Sob Rock” is when he plays “Til the Right One Comes” and interpolates Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” into the back half of the performance.

Additionally, Mayer released an alternate version of “Last Train Home” a couple of months after the release of the album, it is a more stripped-down, slow version of the song that he calls the “Ballad Version.” It is almost a different song entirely because of the changed instrumentation and it is cool to see that the music is always able to change and modulate.

This is definitely one of my favorite albums by Mayer (and that is saying something), I am a pretty huge fan of his music and this is one of my most-listened-to albums of his. In my 2022 wrapped article, four out of the ten songs on the album were my top ten listened-to songs from 2022.