13 Songs, 37 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Mayer Hawthorne (born Andrew Mayer Cohen) is a 30-year-old white musician with a deep appreciation of Smokey Robinson, Eddie Kendricks, and the complete works of Holland-Dozier-Holland. Hawthorne isn’t the only contemporary musician whose aim is to revive the textures and production techniques of mid-to-late period Motown. Just last year Raphael Saadiq released The Way I See It, an album with similar intentions as A Strange Arrangement. The difference is that Saadiq is a great singer and a passable arranger, while Hawthorne is a passable singer and a great arranger. He has learned to use his voice to his advantage, and it blends effortlessly into the dreamy chords of “A Strange Arrangement,” “Green Eyed Love,” and “Make Her Mine.” Hawthorne comes off slightly stiff on the uptempo numbers, but he has a knack for slow jams, and “Shiny & New” and “I Wish It Would Rain” are nothing short of sublime. But just like those old Motown albums, one single stands above all the rest — the groovy and graceful “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Mayer Hawthorne (born Andrew Mayer Cohen) is a 30-year-old white musician with a deep appreciation of Smokey Robinson, Eddie Kendricks, and the complete works of Holland-Dozier-Holland. Hawthorne isn’t the only contemporary musician whose aim is to revive the textures and production techniques of mid-to-late period Motown. Just last year Raphael Saadiq released The Way I See It, an album with similar intentions as A Strange Arrangement. The difference is that Saadiq is a great singer and a passable arranger, while Hawthorne is a passable singer and a great arranger. He has learned to use his voice to his advantage, and it blends effortlessly into the dreamy chords of “A Strange Arrangement,” “Green Eyed Love,” and “Make Her Mine.” Hawthorne comes off slightly stiff on the uptempo numbers, but he has a knack for slow jams, and “Shiny & New” and “I Wish It Would Rain” are nothing short of sublime. But just like those old Motown albums, one single stands above all the rest — the groovy and graceful “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out.”

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About Mayer Hawthorne

A practitioner of his own variety of playful but sincere blue-eyed soul, Mayer Hawthorne is the stage name of eclectic DJ/producer Andrew Cohen. Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a onetime member of the rap groups Athletic Mic League and Now On, Cohen began recording soul-steeped material as something of a joke. He initially didn't plan to have it reach beyond his circle of friends and family. But Hawthorne, the pseudonym Cohen used for the songs, eventually took on a life of its own. When a couple of Hawthorne songs were played for Peanut Butter Wolf, the Stones Throw label head was baffled; he initially thought he was hearing re-edits of obscure late-'60s/early-'70s soul singles, not the work of a multi-instrumentalist who laid everything down himself.

Hawthorne, now based in Los Angeles, was subsequently signed to Stones Throw, and debuted with "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out" b/w "When I Said Goodbye," a pair of scratchy and bittersweet tales of heartache on red heart-shaped 7" vinyl. A 12" featuring a cover of New Holidays' obscure 1969 single "Maybe So Maybe No" followed shortly thereafter, preceding the full-length A Strange Arrangement, released in October 2009. After a live set (Stones Throw Direct to Disc #1) and a couple single releases, Hawthorne released his second album, How Do You Do, for Universal Republic in October 2011. Where Does This Door Go followed on the label in 2013 and added some '70s and '80s flavors to the singer's mix of retro sounds. Hawthorne next launched a collaborative synth pop project with Texas-based rappers 14K called Jaded; they released their debut album, The Big Knock, in the summer of 2014. Next came another collaborative project, this time with Seattle hip-hop producer Jake One. Under the name Tuxedo, they released their retro synth-soul debut via Stones Throw in early 2015. Hawthorne dropped a solo album of '70s-influenced soul sounds, Man About Town, for Vagrant Records in the spring of 2016. ~ Andy Kellman

  • ORIGIN
    Ann Arbor, MI
  • BORN
    February 2, 1979

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