A Strange ArrangementAlbum |
DJ turned soul crooner mixes Curtis Mayfield with hip-hop flavor
When a white, 29-year-old hip-hop DJ from Ann Arbor, Michigan recorded a couple of soul tracks in his bedroom, it wasn't with the intention to create one of 2009's most charming and refreshing LPs. On A Strange Arrangement, Mayer Hawthorne (real name Andrew Mayer Cohen), sings love songs that combine old-school Motown flavor with new-school beats and a fresh attitude. Most of his songs are about the ladies, whether it be trying to break up with them ("Just Ain't Gonna Work Out"), dealing with their expensive habits ("One Track Mind"), or being led on ("Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin'"), and it's done with so much class that it's hard not to just fall in love with the guy. Hawthorne unapologetically wears his influences (Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Smokey Robinson, etc.) on his sleeve: the drums in the optimistic anthem "The Ills" are even reminiscent of Mayfield's classic "Move On Up." With his consistently smooth falsetto and an energizing horn section, it's really no wonder that when Stones Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf discovered Hawthorne, he thought the tunes came from another time. But when the tunes are this good, modernity is beside the point.