Mayer Hawthorne enters a new era with Man About Town
It’s been nearly three years since his last solo album, but Mayer Hawthorne has returned. With Man About Town, he’s gone back to some basics, in a sense. “On Where Does This Door Go, I worked with a number of amazingly talented producers, but the new album I produced nearly entirely on my own, like I did on the first two LPs,” Hawthorne shared with us. Thus far, two songs have been released: the groovy “Cosmic Love” and “Love Like That,” which was inspired by a real life situation.
“That song is about a girl I had a serious crush on, but she was in a relationship at the time. I’m normally not the jealous type, but this one really got under my skin, especially because she was particularly flirty with me. I was single and lonely, and they seemed so happy together. They ended up breaking up a few months after I wrote the song, which just shows you that appearances can be so deceiving—especially on social media,” says Hawthorne in a Behind the Music–like tell-all.
Hawthorne is known for trying different sounds among projects and even between solo albums. Where some of his earlier material more or less recreated ’60s and ’70s soul soundscapes, his newer material has used those references more sparingly, which has resulted in a more modern sound, combined with some nods to late ’70s and early ’80s blue-eyed-soul à la the other cat in the hat, Bobby Caldwell.
“Man About Town is unique in that it’s definitely a progression,” he states, before continuing, “The songwriting, playing, and arranging is definitely elevated, but that rawness and honesty is there. That vulnerability. It’s not perfect. I think it’s the most Mayer Hawthorne album yet.” For an artist to release something he doesn’t feel is perfect is a testament to confidence in the material.
Continuing to expand his expertise in his craft is also continually on his mind. While he’s been known to play many instruments on his albums in the past, he also continues to find ways to learn more. “I forced myself to learn electric guitar during the How Do You Do tour,” he confides. “I had never played guitar, and never really wanted to, but there were a lot of twin guitar parts on the album that I wanted to replicate live.” The pressure of performing those parts live lent itself to a relatively quick learning curve. With those skills polished with fervent touring, most of the guitar on Man About Town was played by the prolific musician.
Through multiple projects, he’s garnered a lot of fans across the world. He even put together a Mayer Hawthorne Revue for a handful of shows in Los Angeles in early 2016 that included his solo work, Tuxedo, and Jaded Inc. It was an experience that he relents still makes him tired as it required months of work and rehearsals for all three groups, coordinating wardrobes, and tireless preparation. Both shows sold out, although Hawthorne admits he lost money on the effort. Still, he’s proud of following through with it to prove to himself that it could be done, which made it all worth it. “We did it… something that no other living artist could even attempt,” he claims victoriously.
He is still keeping a bucket list of artists to work with in the future including Rihanna, Sia, MIA, and Beyonce. For now, though, his energy is focused on promoting his new solo work and touring.
On April 8, Vagrant Records is releasing Man About Town on CD, LP, and digital formats, including some limited bundles on the official Mayer Hawthorne online store.
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