Thursday, April 28, 2016

Album Review: Man About Town by Mayer Hawthorne

A Strange Arrangement invoked 60's Motown.  How Do You Do dabbled with 70's Philly Soul.  Where Does This Door Go brought the 80's Funk.  Where will Man About Town take us?

Mayer Hawthorne had me at "You're Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin'".  Since his debut he has aged his retro sound by a decade each release and slowly phased out my interest.  I understand that if you standing still you're not moving forward but I truly loved his first two albums and would have been quite content with just repeating those proven formulas.  After Where Does This Door Go and his Pharrell collaborations lost me I was curious what direction his next album would go.

For Man About Town Mayer sheds the fancy producers and goes back to his roots.  The music follows suit bringing back the raw retro sound that made me fall in love with him in the first place. Instead of picking a genre or a decade he fully embraces them all.  This album is a celebration of all of the music Mayer loves.  It drips with soul, it bounces with funk, and it is drenched in R&B.  

So as to not sound stale he has taken what he is good at and expands on it.  The opener "Man About Town" is a nod to 60's psychedelia and and "Fancy Clothes" brings and island flare with its back beat.  It's a full mix of culture and rhythms. You would think this was the full package but does it stand up to his earlier work?

He taps into the lyrics on emotional level this time around giving us an uncut and fragile sensibility. It is filled with loneliness and perhaps I am left feeling a little lonely at the end.  Each of his previous albums had a stand out track for me.  "You're Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin'" and "Dreaming" are just a few of his upbeat songs that I had trouble getting out of my head.  He has always had sad songs but the upbeat songs made them even sweeter.  There isn't that one standout song that keeps me coming back on Man About Town.  It's a solid album but it's not an incredible album. I want to love it but it just falls short.

I love Mayer Hawthorne.  I hope that this is an album that I rediscover down the line and after a few more listens I come back with a better appreciation.  Right now I'm just not there.  Please do not pass this by.  Give it a listen and form your own opinion.  Sometimes I am wrong.  I just won't admit it.

See you when the needle drops!


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