Music/Popular Culture

New Mayer Hawthorne CD isn’t what you expected, but it may be better than you expected

Mayer Hawthorne’s new CD, Where Does This Door Go, is set to drop next Tuesday. Thanks to NPR, I’ve been streaming it for a few days now.

If you recall, I loved his last disc: How Do You Do made my Platinum list for 2011.

Okay, well, that may be overstating the case a tad, but as fun, can’t-get-that-song-out-of-my-ears ’60s and ’70s-influenced R&B goes, it’s hard to beat How Do You Do. (BTW, for those of you back in the Carolinas, this is the best Beach Music CD you’ve heard in years, except maybe for Dixon’s 2010 release.) There’s never a false referent and every track takes you somewhere you haven’t been in years, but wow, it’s great to revisit the place. Granted, The Temptations never had the potty mouth that MH does, but you got to roll with the times.

This isn’t the only best-of list Hawthorne is on, and good for him. Some might snipe a little that he’s working CeeLo Green’s turf, but I can’t imagine Green having any complaints at all about How Do You Do except maybe “turn it up.”

The new release hangs a stylistic left, and isn’t going to be what some fans are expected. Like me, for instance. It took me probably seven or eight spins to get my ears completely around it, and if I’d only listened once I’d have been disappointed. Glad I hung in there.

Where Does This Door Go just gets better and better with each listen. It’s mainly a sort of very urban neo-’70s radio soul/R&B kinda disc, plenty of funk and groove and steam rising through the manhole covers along North Broadway in Philly just before sunrise. But it’s also a lot more. You’ll hear snatches that remind you of Prince and Stevie Wonder and it could easily be the second disc of the new Daft Punk CD, and there are spots where it’s like he’s intentionally riffing on Steely Dan (you’re going to hear “Peg” whether you want to or not) and it closes with a track that says yes, I have been listening to the final days of The Beatles (and maybe a tad of ELO, as well).

Just a great, great CD.