Tue. Jul 5th, 2022

Renowned For Sound

For the latest music reviews and interviews

Album Review: Mayer Hawthorne – Man About Town

2 min read

Upon hearing an amalgamation of Motown, old-school soul and funk define a record, seldom would you pin its creator as someone who originated in prime 90s-era hip-hop. But retro-soul rooted album Man About Town was curated by Michigan-born Mayer Hawthorne who, contrary to expectation began his musical journey as a club DJ in Detroit, in the heyday of hip-hop. Since then, Hawthorne has continued to impress by producing and writing almost all of his slick discography, playing a vast array of instruments single-handedly on each record.

Mayer Hawthorne Man About TownWhere on his previous album Where Does This Door Go Hawthorne had renounced his usual role as producer, with Man About Town he is back behind the wheel, and definitely gripping it with both hands. You can see how his work with other producers has inspired him though; the sunny production and accompanying falsetto licks on Breakfast In Bed prod at a sound prominent on the album GIRL by Pharrell, who produced a handful of the tracks on Hawthorne’s previous record.

By no stretch of the imagination has Mayer Hawthorne taken any dramatically radical steps with this record, it is still defined by its sepia feeling, retro-soul aural style – a style which he arguably pioneered. What is different though, is that Man About Town is literally an album to listen to ‘about town’ – ideal to walk with on a hot day, headphones in, trying to walk to the groove. Where his previous records have been regarded as intimate, ‘baby-making’ music, here we see Hawthorne stepping out of the bedroom and into the outdoors. He even ventures into the tropical realms of reggae with Fancy Clothes, which comes complete with an impressive genre-specific guitar solo (albeit strained vocals on the verses proving this is not a style he is used to).

The albums lead single Love Like That delivers as the musical spawn of Mark Ronson and Gym Class Heroes; funk and disco orientated but with a gangster attitude! And the double time synths and harmoniously layered vocals on the chorus of The Valley are dripping in (slightly cheesy) 60s nostalgia.  Man About Town is pleasantly diverse and clearly required an abundance of skill from Hawthorne. That being said, it is not without flaw, lacking some of the substance we have learned to expect from his previous albums. Regardless though, it is an accomplished record, and the ideal soundtrack to a hot summers day.