For the last few years, artists like Jamie Lidell, Amy Winehouse, and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings hinted at a true throwback to the classic soul sounds of Motown, Atlantic, and Stax. Seemingly coming out of nowhere (Ann Arbor, Michigan to be exact), Mayer Hawthorne is another advancement of this sound and, quite simply, the real deal. You might be taken aback by how un-modern this debut album sounds. Down to the instrumentation and arrangements, Hawthorne does his best to pay homage to this timeless era albeit with new original compositions, both sung and played by him. Replete with backing vocals reminiscent of the Four Tops and the Spinners, songs like “Maybe So, Maybe No” and “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” are immediate classics, even if they are seemingly time warped to a new era. Ballads, almost a lost art in current music, are right at home alongside this mid-tempo soul. Barry Gordy would be proud, if not a little surprised, that there’s still a market for these sounds, and the fact that Stones Throw (venerable indie home to Madlib and Peanut Butter Wolf) discovered and released this album is a testament to how things go beyond full circle. A strange arrangement indeed, and a promising one.
Mayer Hawthorne – Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’