This album from Mayer Hawthorne was released last April, Man About Town is full of soulful and funky numbers that are reminiscent of the old school, but with a contemporary flare. Hawthorne, real name Andrew Mayer Cohen, has also performed in other groups such as Tuxedo, who produced funky nu-disco banger ‘Do It’. However, Mayer Hawthorne’s solo career seems to be reaching new heights with Man About Town, his voice is so well suited to this genre, and the album is effortlessly smooth. Influences here range from Jamiroquai to Marvin Gaye, audible on tracks like ‘Get You Back’ and ‘Cosmic Love’, the latter featuring some sexy lead and female backing vocals with an 80s Soul Weekender vibe. For ‘Get You Back’, the intro has classy strings and develops into a classic Motown sound; bearing similarities to music from Dreamgirls, it wouldn’t be out of place in a musical, and Hawthorne sounds like he could be the lovechild of Marin Gaye with John Legend.
The album makes use of great horn sections, evident with songs like ‘Breakfast in Bed', a sexy slow jam; this funky R&B number is like a cross between Barry White and Justin Timberlake, romantic but cool. The horns are also prominent in ‘Book of Broken Hearts’, which bears similarities to many early 80s soul, as well as some Hall & Oates, with some really strong backing vocals once again. Mayer Hawthorne has produced music that resembles the nu-disco style of Chromeo, heavy on the synths and some funky vocoder work with tracks like ‘Love Like That’; the artist similarly uses lyrical humour, such as in ‘Lingerie & Candlewax’. The standout track for me is the final number ‘Out of Pocket’, it incorporates the electronic Gambino ‘wap-wap’ sound (a self-coined term) with some jazzy keys, and Mayer Hawthorne’s vocals are suave as hell here.
Man About Town is a wonderful blend of nu-disco, pop, and soul; this sort of approach to old school music but for a modern audience could be how soul and disco re-enter the commercial charts. It’s a great album and, at only half an hour long with ten tracks, Mayer Hawthorne chooses quality over quantity, which pays off in the resulting album. There are catchy hooks and tasty tunes throughout Man About Town, good for any mood, so get listening because this is a man who knows how to make a good soul album; even the short intro is a cool electronic Beatles-like track, and the cover art is awesome. Mayer Hawthorne has also just released a banging new track with Tuxedo, ahead of their new album coming out at the end of March. This new single, ‘2nd Time Around’, sets a high standard that will undoubtedly be matched throughout Tuxedo II. I recommend a browse through Hawthorne and Tuxedo’s back catalogue, and I can’t wait for the funky disco belters yet to come.