Design By Humans
Published On: Fri, May 6th, 2016

Mayer Hawthorne: Man About Town

mayer hMayer Hawthorne
Man About Town
(Vagrant Records)

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Within the realms of music production and breakfast food, there are few approaches that Mayer Hawthorne refuses to try. When you declare your permanent location as The Waffle House in your Twitter bio, you’re making a statement that says, “Hey, I love breakfast food no matter what time it is.” And when you put out a record that is as sonically eclectic as Man About Town, you’re making an equally bold statement that says soul music goes well when served with any other genre. In the production of his third, full-length release, Where Does This Door Go, Hawthorne enlisted the Midas touch of fellow soul man Pharrell Williams to help him push the boundaries of the modern Motown sound that was the basis for the bulk of production on albums one and two, A Strange Arrangement and How Do You Do, respectively. It’s difficult to pinpoint specific influences on Mayer’s latest release, as the voices called to mind as I proceeded through the album ranged from Bill Withers to Bob Marley and more than a few other artists in between. What’s most noteworthy about the diversification of sound evident on this record is the balance Mayer is able to maintain from start to finish: he keeps his ever-so-smooth vocals as the main entrée while offering a taste of reggae here (“Fancy Clothes”) and a spritz of funk there (“Out of Pocket”). A song with a title as overtly sensual as “Lingerie & Candlewax” requires a highly delicate touch (literally), and he handles this groove with the same confident ease you can feel on “Love Like That,” a real banger of a track that’ll get huge crowds dancing together for years to come. While previous releases from Hawthorne seemed to be crafted as nightlife accompaniments, this record is markedly friendlier toward embracing the morning sun (i.e., “Breakfast in Bed”), serving as a most pleasant reminder that summer is fast approaching. It’s clear as day that the risks Mayer took on his previous album rubbed off just the right amount on his fourth release, which follows suit in pushing the boundaries of what the term “soul music” can mean.

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Mayer Hawthorne: Man About Town