Frank Ocean and John Mayer may have somewhat different reputations, but they share a humanist sensibility and an emphasis on emotionally resonant storytelling. Also, a weak spot for smoky guitar licks. It’s more natural than it might seem, then, for Ocean to appear on Mayer’s upcoming album, Paradise Valley, due out August 20 on Columbia Records. According to Rolling Stone, Ocean will sing on a short song called “Wildfire,” while Katy Perry, who has been in and out of a relationship with Mayer, will sing on a country-flavored song called “Who You Love.”
Mayer played guitar on “White,” from Ocean’s channel ORANGE (SPIN’s 2012 Album of the Year) and appeared in the video for the album’s “Pyramids.” Mayer also performed alongside Ocean on Saturday Night Live. More to the point, Mayer eloquently praised Ocean’s “heroic self-expression” several months ago in an interview, and Ocean has returned some of the love, naming Mayer’s Born and Raised when asked what 2012 albums he liked. Another piece of trivia that remains weirdly relevant: No less a 2013 pop King Midas than Pharrell once compared Ocean to James Taylor, a clear influence on Mayer’s songwriting.
Mayer recently shared a goofy video for “Paper Doll,” a laid-back new single that may or may not respond to the Taylor Swift song that he later said “humiliated” him. In April, Mayer and Gary Clark Jr. performed together to help induct Albert King into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As for Ocean, Mayer’s album might be our best chance to hear something from him for a while: He recently canceled a string of dates due to a torn vocal cord. There’ll always be lyrics-only Chris Brown disses, bootleg vinyl, and that Jay Z Magna Carta Holy Grail standout titled “Oceans.” Perry, meanwhile, has a new album called Prism on the way October 22, and first single “Roar” arrives August 12; watch a cat in a teaser video here.