John Mayer may have just titled his stellar new album The Search For Everything, but it really seems like he’s already found what he was looking for. Mayer makes being a rock star look so easy it’s almost offensive. He can croon with the best of them and tickle the ivories before laying down guitar-hero arena sized riffs. He’s dated supermodels and fellow pop stars, appeared on stages all around the world, and took Jerry Garcia’s role in the newest iteration of The Grateful Dead with Dead & Co. Sadly, even singing cheek-to-cheek with Bob Weir isn’t enough to make Mayer forget the one who got away.

Unfortunately for Mayer, having it all hasn’t apparently worked out as well as he might have wanted. The Search For Everything is dotted with numerous references to mistakes and powerlessness. After much conjecture in the media, he admitted that the first single, “Still Feel Like Your Man,” was indeed about his ex, mega-star Katy Perry. While the song itself is built around a soulful and bouncy background, it is clear that their is a dichotomy between tone and intention. Give the song a spin below and listen for yourself.

“Still Feel Like Your Man”

An undercurrent of melancholy is present on much of The Search For Everything. The theme is quickly reinforced on the second track, “Emoji Of A Wave,” a song of hope in the face of a growing uncertainty. “Helpless” attempts to throw the malaise of the first two tracks through the power of rock. The blues-guitar outro is fitting and soulful if not overly remarkable. Even songs that seem positive on the surface like “Love On The Weekend” have dark lyrical and sonic undertones.

Doubts seem to plague John Mayer. On “In The Blood” and “Changing,” he seems to be examining every facet of his life. At the album’s midpoint, Mayer puts down his pen and let’s the music do the talking with “Theme From The Search For Everything.” After catching his musical breath, he drops one of the slinkiest guitar grooves you’ll hear this year on “Moving On And Getting Over.” Once again, the groove doesn’t match the message, as he clearly hasn’t moved on.

The Search For Everything is an impressive example of the dying art of making a complete album. Mayer’s mixture of repetitive imagery lyrically makes his confusion and isolation painfully clear. On “Rosie,” he practically begs an ex for a one night stand, only to play a bubbling blues riff as he is again rebuffed. Time and again, Mayer’s hope of love is dashed against the rocky shores of emotional disconnect.

For those paying attention, it was obvious that there was no cheerful finish on the way. The first stanza of the closing track “You’re Going To Live Forever In Me” concludes with the words “…it all ends unfortunately.” The testimonial of undying love he makes isn’t a promise made to the true love he seeks. When he sings the words “You’re going to live forever in me, wait and see,” he is making a sad promise to a uncaring ear. It’s the most poignant moment of the album, a perfect summation of all that has come before.

The bravery John Mayer shows in sharing his heart in such an open way is undeniably entrancing. Artistically, it is said that it is best to “Write what you know” if you want to have any hope of true emotional resonance. The Search For Everything clearly shows Mayer as a student of that school of thought. The album is a love letter to missed opportunities and unfortunately placed optimism. Mayer may have written and record this album to exorcise his demons, but he also managed to show the true depths of his, and by extension, everyone’s humanity. Not bad for a white boy who can’t dance.