Several weeks ago while channel surfing I came across a most extraordinary musical talent performing on the PBS series "Live From The Artists Den". The artist was Mayer Hawthorne and the tune that caught my ear was "The Walk". I thought that Mayer's vocals were extraordinary and the background musicians exceptionally gifted. I had never heard of him. I stuck around for the balance of the show and shortly thereafter decided to order his latest disc "How Do You Do". It turns out to be an amazing album.
What most impresses me about "How Do You Do" is that Mayer Hawthorne a/k/a Anthony Mayer Cohen wrote every one of the dozen tunes on the disc. I was at a bit of a loss to categorize the specific genre of music I was listening to. I guess it can be best described as "retro soul". Although he currently resides in Los Angeles Hawthorne grew up in Michigan and has a great love for the "Northern Soul" sound that was so popular in the 1960's and 1970's. Mayer counts among his influences people like Isaac Hayes, Smokey Robinson, Barry White, Curtis Mayfield and the legendary Motown songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. I could listen to this guy all day. Not surprisingly, "The Walk" is still my favorite track but there are quite a few other numbers on this disc that caught my attention. I have always been a fan of catchy pop tunes and there is no shortage of them on "How Do You Do". I particularly enjoyed "Dreaming", "Finally Falling" and "Hooked" while "Stick Around" reminds mean of something that might have been written and sung by the great Smokey Robinson. Check it out! Unfortunately, you just don't hear stuff like this on the radio anymore. And for more of a funky sound check out Mayer's duet with Snoop Dogg called "Can't Stop".
Now it is my understanding that Mayer Hawthorne performs with a rotating cast of musicians so I really have no idea if the people playing on the record are the same ones who I saw performing on "The Artists". No matter. I am pleased to report that I found the musicians playing on "How Do You Do" to be every bit as talented. Incredibly tight sound! I was also surprised to discover that guitarist Dennis Coffey, who at one time was a member of Motown's legendary Funk Brothers studio band, appears on a couple of the tracks. I count myself with another Amazon reviewer who "became an instant fan" after hearing Mayer's music. Rest assured, based on what I have heard on "How Do You Do" I eagerly await Mayer Hawthorne's next release. Very highly recommended!
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About the reviewer
Paul Tognetti (drifter51)
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
2011 album from the singer, songwriter, producer and DJ. The Retro Soul tag is added to almost any contemporary work that sounds like it was originally recorded before 1980, and Mayer Hawthorne is aware of how trends come and go. On How Do You Do, Hawthorne proves that he is not part of a trend. The classic Motown sound that provided the blueprint for his self-produced independent debut, A Strange Arrangement, remains, but is joined on How Do You Do by music reminiscent of late 1960s California pop and the best work from the likes of Steely Dan and Chicago. On this release, the formula has been updated. The vocals are stronger, the music more varied and vibrant, but it's still Mayer Hawthorne. And the message is love.