What a way to start an EP – stunning acoustic guitar mastery, raspy and soulful vocals, an opening lyric that quickly engages for its inclusivity and honesty alike. Not Perfect is a powerful single, raw and emotive, melodically addictive and genuine – a brilliant introduction to John Mapes.
The Live & Learn EP makes for a beautiful listen in full. There’s something about John’s song-writing that feels just unique enough to stand out. The melodic progression of Perfect is mildly familiar, but veers off just in time to throw in a worldly touch of melancholy as the concept twists to reveal ‘we are all a work in progress, and the job is never done’.
Inspiring listening, and stylishly and organic at the same time – quickly inviting interest in the potential passion of a live show.
Stunning vocals and impeccable acoustic guitar work guide us through this entire EP – as does deeply thoughtful, reflective and comfortingly open song-writing.
Grand Scheme Of Things follows and is all of this. A gentler set-up, still pondering the bigger picture, and quite honestly relaying the truth of the matter – that we can’t all be a Martin Luther King or a Mother Teresa, but ultimately there’s still plenty to live for and find purpose in.
For Granted injects a little rhythm as strings return and the arrangement takes us through an interesting array of layers. John reflects on the passing of time – reminding us to appreciate the little things, the real moments in life.
A touch of intimacy and sadness starts off I’ll Be Here. There’s softness in the delivery, a certain vulnerability in John’s longing to be more, and in his call out to a significant other.
Then we get the big-band brightness of Broken to bring things to an uplifting pop-rock finish; an energy that’s contrasted by the struggle and poetic uncertainty of the lyrics.
The song sees John step away from singer-songwriter territory into something a little more Three Doors Down, with a twist of Americana meeting another deeply honest hit of emotive song-writing. The music uplifts, as John sings his heart out in a therapeutic manner. A great way to finish.
Consistently considerate of the big questions in life, Live & Learn is everything its title promises and then some. John Mapes is a fantastic artist, with a classic sound and skill to his process but a unique edge to both his voice and his writing. Refreshingly honest in a commendably fearless way.