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Mayer Hawthorne, one man band

by Dan Rudin

Just 29 years old, and playing every instrument on his album, Mayer Hawthorne is undeniably a bad-ass. His songs and (self produced) production style sound so close to 60’s soul that it’s hard to believe that this record has only been out for a month. His vocal tone reminds me of early Elvis Costello, but his tracks are pure Smoky Robinson.

Hawthorne’s record makes me smile. Though old soul is back in style (thanks in no small part to Mark Ronson), there is nothing about this album that seems like an attempt to do anything but play music that matters to Mayer. Occasionally slightly out of tune (guitar on “A Strange Arrangement”), occasionally not virtuosic (bari sax solo on “Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’”), these songs just feel honest.

Fortunate enough to work with some of the greatest talents in music today, I feel qualified to say that Hawthorne will soon be recognized among them.

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