Boomkat Product Review:
The hugely anticipated debut album from prodigious multi-instrumentalist Mayer Hawthorne finally lands! As the story goes, Peanut Butter Wolf signed Mayer after only hearing two songs, immediately enraptured with his retro lick of soul class which wears his Smokey Robinson and Holland, Dozier, Holland influences proudly on his well fitted sleeve. 'A Strange Arrangement' is the opus that we've all been waiting for since that fateful 'Maybe So, Maybe No' 12", extending his retro fetish to an album of astonishingly well-executed tributes to the heyday of Motown and the glorious Soul era of 1966-74. The immaculate title track starts the LP with heart-melting vocal harmonies and beautiful piano/woodwind foreplay letting you know you're in for something special, before a pristine drum break and gloopy soul bass provide a studied rhythmic base for a tale of unrequited love delivered in a strong male falsetto, made more impressive when you realise that Mayer only found his singing voice when he started this project. Those two tracks from his first Stones Throw 12" are here in full colour, but it's really the new gear that's of most interest, with tracks like the swinging 'Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin' or 'One Track Mind' nailing the Motown sound with baffling ease. The uptempo 'The Ills' approximates Otis Reading, and 'Let Me Know' is a tribute to Barry White, only a few octaves higher. It won't take a fanatic to realise you're listening to a modern production, but the results are outstandingly well accomplished and should be given some time by any soul lovers.