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Mayer Hawthorne

How Do You Do
(Universal Republic)

When he burst onto the scene a couple of years ago, Mayer Hawthorne was something of an unknown quantity to most. Some eagle-eyed hip hop fans recognised him as DJ Haircut of Now On but this new smooth, Motown styled persona was certainly a change from his normal routine. Now known more for his debut album A Strange Arrangement than any of his group work, Hawthorne has gone to Universal from revered hip hop label Stones Throw, but those fearing a change in output can rest easy – the new album is definitely one for fans of its predecessor.

Tales of love abound throughout the release, whether it’s falling for a girl, being in love or suffering from the acrimonious split. From the opening track Get To Know You where he describes his wish to find out more about the object of his affection in order to “get it on tonight” to the Snoop-guested Can’t Stop which documents the struggle to let feelings for the girl go to the instantly catchy The News which turns the tables and blames the girl on the split – “What we had, was all I knew / What we lost, was all on you / I’ve got news for you, we’re through”.

The music isn’t complex, but that’s its most potent weapon. Short stabby horns and bouncy drums surround Hawthorne’s voice as he brings to mind all the greats from a bygone era. With closed eyes, this could easily have been made in Motor City by the legends and stands Hawthorne alongside contemporaries like Raphael Saadiq in achieving such an accolade.

This is feel good music, whatever the weather, once these tunes hit, it’s sunshine and smiles. What might have started off as a jokey side-project is now a thoroughly respectable and enjoyable career.