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Mayer Hawthorne - A Strange Arrangement - Stones Throw

Growing up just outside Detroit, Michigan, Mayer Hawthorne fell in love with the sound of soul music as a kid. Listening to old Motown classics on the radio inspired Hawthorne to not only embark on a music career of his own, but renovate the music he adored with a modern relevancy. On his new album, A Strange Arrangement, Hawthorne strikes that balance between then and now in stunning fashion.

The songs on A Strange Arrangement immediately draw you back in time. And while Hawthorne may not be as smooth a crooner say as Smokey or Curtis, his songs are none the less as genuine. He romances on songs like "Maybe So, Maybe No" and the hip-shaking "Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin'." A Strange Arrangement also showcases his ability to slow things down and deliver a sweet falsetto on "I Wish It Would Rain" and the break-up ballad "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out."

Beginning his career as a producer, DJ and multi-instrumentalist, the transition to frontman feels almost effortless as Hawthorne projects almost as a veteran-like confidence. Playing all the instruments and arranging the entire album, A Strange Arrangement is a testament to Hawthorne's talent. And while it may be easy to throw a retro or neo-soul label on Hawthorne, after a listen it's understandable as to why you'd hesitate to do so. For as much as his music harkens back, A Strange Arrangement is perhaps even more in the now.

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