Mayer Hawthorne - A Strange Arrangement
Label: Stones Throw Records – STH2219
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album
Released: 17 Nov 2009
Genre: Funk / Soul
A1 Prelude 0:25
A2 A Strange Arrangement 4:13
A3 Just Ain't Gonna Work Out 2:29
B1 Maybe So, Maybe No 2:56
B2 Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin' 3:01
B3 I Wish It Would Rain 3:55
C1 Make Her Mine 2:39
C2 One Track Mind 2:03
C3 The Ills 2:49
D1 Shiny And New 2:56
D2 Let Me Know 3:00
D3 Green Eyed Love 3:50
Bass [Additional] – Leon Wolverine (tracks: C1)
Flugelhorn – Hoagie Haven (tracks: A2, C1, D1)
French Horn – Matt Raulio (tracks: B3), Sgt. Harvey Pepper (tracks: A2, C1, D1)
Glockenspiel – Dennard Ellsworth
Guitar – "Humbucker" Highland (tracks: A3, B2), Jimmy Yellowstone (tracks: B1, C1, C2, C3, D3)
Percussion [Additional] – Mbari Thornhill (tracks: C3)
Performer [All Other Instruments] – Mayer Hawthorne
Piano, Electric Piano – Lawrence Minimal (tracks: A2, B1, B3, C1, C3, D1)
Producer – Mayer Hawthorne
Saxophone [Baritone] – Andrew Nichols (2) (tracks: C2)
Saxophone [Tenor], Saxophone [Baritone], Flute – David Mayer (2) (tracks: A2, B2, C1, C3, D1)
Trumpet – Sam Beaubien (tracks: B1, B3, C2), Todd Simon (tracks: A2, B2, C1, C3)
Violin, Double Bass – Lynn DeVoe (tracks: B3)
Vocals – Mayer Hawthorne
Written-By – Mayer Hawthorne (tracks: A1-A3, B2-D3)
2009 debut album from the Michigan-bred Pop/Soul singer/songwriter. A Strange Arrangement draws from the inspiration of Leroy Hutson, Smokey Robinson and the legendary songwriting and production trio of Holland, Dozier, Holland. At the same time, it revels in raw the sounds of the independent (and often unappreciated) musicians who aspired to achieve a level of success akin to their famous peers. The album is full of original compositions (bar a cover of The New Holidays' 'Maybe So, Maybe No') that underlies a heartfelt nostalgia to the sweet Soul of yesteryear.
The evolution of "neo-soul" and the reinvention of funk and R & B has been the unspoken blessing of the past decade. The slow mutation from Jill Scott to the British throwback queens of Duffy and Amy Winehouse have shown you don't have to reinvent the wheel, just take the old one and paint it a different color. Mayer Hawthorne's debut on Stones Throw Records, thankfully, finds an untapped niche in this genre with great results.
"A Strange Arrangement" isn't your older brothers booty-shaking R & B, your uncle's old Earth Wind and Fire records, or your dad's collection of Al Green. This record has a lot more in common with the Temptations and Otis Redding. Combining Motown soul and funk breaks and instrumentation, Mayer Hawthorne's music owes a lot to the classics and the easy listening sound of the early 60s and their favorite topic: love won and lost. Hawthorne plays every instrument on the record and has been quoted as having to learn how to sing for this record. It is easy to hear why: the melody lines frequently dip into falsetto and sometimes he executes it, sometimes he doesn't. No matter. The effort he pours into it makes up for the lack of training. The title track oozes along with vocal harmonies to create the lushest arrangement (no pun intended) on the record, first single "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out," despite its sparseness of arrangement or melody, just feels great. The horns of the cover "Maybe So or Maybe No" jump out of the record as well.
As a whole, A Strange Arrangement feels familiar and nostalgic in a good way. Of course there are drawbacks to his approach and style. I can't help but wishing Burt Bacharach or Hal Mooney (if he was alive) could toss their arrangements onto these sparse compositions and make them really fly. Very few multi-instrumentalists (Beck, Jon Brion, or Prince are excluded) can really put a session musician's technique on each instrument and careful listeners can hear this lack of polish. But for most listeners, "A Strange Arrangement" is an intimate, informal collection of love songs that goes down easier than your favorite nightcap.
Mayer Hawthorne - Just Ain't Gonna Work Out (Official Video)
Mayer Hawthorne - Maybe So Maybe No (Official Video)
Mayer Hawthorne - The Ills
Mayer Hawthorne - Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin'
this song has the power to make my worst days in to great day!
Really digging this one
Mayer Hawthorne - I Wish It Would Rain (Video)
Great soul homage to the Brothers of Motown! Loving that black sound..