A Strange Arrangement Limited Edition, Extra tracks
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If the internet hadn't been invented and people still bought albums based on the label it was released on, regardless of whether they'd heard it or not, then Mayer Hawthorne’s debut record would no doubt have shocked many Stones Throw fans. Indeed, a label that has built its reputation on the back of artists such as Madlib, J Dilla, Oh No and Guilty Simpson, has thrown the curve ball of the year by releasing an album that sounds so authentic of soul it could have come from the Detroit of the 60s.
Though Hawthorne didn't come out of nowhere – he was known as Haircut in Athletic Mic League and Now On – this incarnation of the Ann Arbor-born singer has taken the US by storm, garnering praise from hip hop heads and mainstream music fans alike, and with good reason. The music itself is simple at times – the title track opens the album with a hi-hat and understated snare which is similarly found, with the addition of a few piano chords, on I Wish It Would Rain – but this isn't detrimental to the album. Such arrangements augment Hawthorne's vocals and provide yet more evidence that he could easily have come from the era he pays tribute to, assuming the listener knew no better.
He's quite capable of the upbeat numbers too, and with lyrics like "I might not drive a new Mercedes / but I'll chauffeur my girl ‘til the edge of the world", it's almost as if the music is coming from the jukebox in an old-fashioned American diner. Album standout The Ills steps the pace up with a lively percussive intro and a crescendo of horns, hinting heavily at his hip hop background. And though he never slips into that world, such flourishes add further dimensions to an already impressive album.
Stones Throw boss Peanut Butter Wolf reportedly signed Hawthorne after hearing only two of his songs and, after just one listen to this debut album, it's not hard to hear why. He may not be the label's usual fare, but for those who are fed up with the new wave of soul and want the real thing, Hawthorne has stepped up with a cracker of a debut album. --Sam Hesketh
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Top Customer Reviews
singer, songwriter and producer whose debut album
'A Strange Arrangement' affectionately captures the spirit
of late 60's and early 70's American soul music.
Well-crafted, lo-fi, late-night listening for lovers
(and other potential enthusiasts of the genre).
There really isn't a bad song in the collection.
Of the 12 at our disposal stand-out tracks would have to include :
'One Track Mind', the loose snare drum, horn arrangement, hand-clapping
and canny vocal harmonies are an absolutely accurate period delight;
the spirit of Curtis Mayfield must have been smiling from the wings
during the recording of 'Maybe So, Maybe No'. Mr Hawthorne's
slightly tentative falsetto creates an authentically endearing effect.
'Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin'' is worthy of the best of Motown.
'I Wish It Would Rain' is one of the lovliest reimaginings
on the album. We are transported back to a time when music
still had the power to thrill. A perfect sparkling gem of a song.
The project is unlikely to set the world on fire. I suspect it
will be heard far less than it deserves to be on these shores.
There's nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving it a listen.
perfect mix of upbeat funkier songs (i.e. 'The Ills' and 'One Track Mind') and beautiful yet sometimes quirky soul ballads (such as 'Green Eyed Love', 'Let Me Know' and 'Just Aint Gonna Work Out').
and on top of all that, i bought this special edition full album + bonus tracks from amazon at the ridiculously under-priced £2.75!! even if you buy this at the current price, it's still a bargain considering what you're getting for your money...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My first exposure to him. Cant believe I missed this ! So Motown in feel with a contemporary twistPublished 9 months ago by G man
Very nice album, modern soul, am def a new fan of mayer hawthorn, and will look into his newer stuffPublished on 18 Mar. 2013 by dave
Came promptly and is an album for most people. Both fun and soulful, great for any occasion really. Also, it's definitely worth checking out some of the videos for the songs.Published on 26 Nov. 2012 by lizardhat