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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Artist of the Day: Mayer Hawthorne


When I was flipping through the latest issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, I happened upon an article profiling a guy that resembled Buddy Holly in a lot of ways.  He had the slicked back hair, the black-rimmed glasses and a 60s style black and white suit to complete the attire. 

His name was Mayer Hawthorne (real name:  Andrew Mayer Cohen)
Though his wardrobe was eye-catching, the one thing that stood out the most was the word ‘Soul’. 

This day in age, our definition of soul/r&b tunes equates to acts like Chris Brown and Keyshia Cole.  These artists are, to an extent, modern takes on soul music, but in its heyday soul music reigned Supreme with the likes of The Temptations, Isaac Hayes, Smokey Robinson and the list goes on, so who would have thought a white boy from Ann Arbor, Michigan would be the one to revive music’s lost ‘soul’?

Hawthorne’s debut LP, A Strange Arrangement, was released on September 8, and since then has garnered a number of rave reviews from several music publications as well as receiving much praise from artists ranging from Alicia Keys to Justin Timberlake via Twitter. 

“Best record of the year goes to Mayer Hawthorne,” John Mayer posted on his Twitter earlier this fall. 

Mayer liked the 29-year-old soul singer’s music so much that now the two are performing together for two consecutive shows, one in San Diego, Calif. on December 29 and another in Las Vegas, Nev. on New Year’s Eve.

But when it really comes down to it, is Mayer Hawthorne really worth all of this praise? 

One interesting thing to note is that Hawthorne never set out to do soul music, he was actually an aspiring hip hop artist in the beginning coined with the MC name Haircut.  This may not come as surprise, for when you listen to A Strange Arrangement you can pick out some of the hip hop-inspired beats in songs like “It Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” and “Maybe So, Maybe No”.  His hip hop personality is still very much alive, and if you want to hear some of his beats, you can check out Haircut’s Myspace page by clicking here.


He’s also never had any formal vocal training, so all of those insane falsetto-driven tunes are purely from the heart and well . . .the soul.

I don’t think it would be wise to call Hawthorne’s music an exact replica of what soul music was back in the 50s and 60s, but it may be better to view it as soul progression. 
I think music producer Mark Ronson said it best, “I have no idea what this is, old or new, but it’s fucking good!!!”

Check out the video for Hawthorne’s first single “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” and if you like that, well, give the rest of the album a try. 

Who's Who:  Mayer Hawthorne (Andrew Mayer Cohen)
Formed:  2008 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Label:  Stones Throw 
Latest Release:  A Strange Arrangement (2009)
On the Web:

-          Jessica Cole

Currently Listening to:  “Maybe So, Maybe No” by Mayer Hawthorne

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