Review: Ann Arbor native Mayer Hawthorne blends his hometown with Motown

Hawthorne's 3rd album entitled 'Where Does This Door Go' released on June 16


DETROIT – WARNING: This album will make you move your shoulders.

Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Mayer Hawthorne, also known as "Haircut," knows a little bit about Motown music. While Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke have taken the summer radio by storm, Mayer Hawthorne is ready to make his mark.

With the release of his 3rd album under Stones Throw Records entitled "Where Does This Door Go," Hawthorne has positioned himself as a top neo soul artist.

His first two albums, "A Strange Arrangement" and "How Do You Do," were heavily influenced by Motown legends. In his hit single "A Long Time," Mayer talked about his mission to bring Motown music back to life.

The new record is a different sound from his previous projects, blending the Ann Arbor nightlife vibe, with Motown melodies -- creating a unique, one of a kind neo soul sound.

The album features producer credits from Pharrell Williams, Jack Splash and Greg Wells, who has written and produced hits for Adele, Weezer and countless others. The album also features a verse from rising hip hop star Kendrick Lamar on the track titled "Crime."

Hawthorne takes us through all types of subject matter, including love, the party life and his childhood. Although the album could have blended a bit better as a complete story, it still manages to mesh well, even with a wide variety of sounds and tempos. Sometimes not everything needs to make sense, it just needs to make you move.

The album takes you through a stroll from the 60's Motown era, to the 70's and 80's Hall & Oates period (he even once had a jam session with Darryl Hall), and blends it all together with new age sounds seemingly influenced by the Neptunes, which would explain why Pharrell was so involved.

It's also clear that Hawthorne is heavily influenced by artists like Sir Paul McCartney and Smokey Robinson. This comes through loud and clear in songs like, "Where Does This Door Go," "Reach Out Richard," a song about his father, and "All Better."

Even though Mayer's sound has changed a bit, he is still staying true to his Motown roots. At 34 years old, the Ann Arbor native is growing and embracing his role among the elite soul singers of our generation.


Mayer Hawthorne's new album is available in stores and on iTunes.


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