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A Strange Arrangement
A Strange Arrangement is retro soul—to the point of seeming like a tribute album to decades past.
Peanut Butter Wolf, owner and founder of independent music label Stones Throw Records, has made it his business to put out music that he likes. In 2009, his label endorsed Andrew Cohen’s soul project (where he assumed the alter ego Mayer Hawthorne) and Peanut Butter Wolf’s musical taste once again resonated with most.
One thing is clear: A Strange Arrangement is retro soul—to the point of seeming like a tribute album to decades past. Its sound is derived directly from the explosion of the genre in the 60’s and 70’s on labels like Motown. While the absence of any new ingredients or experiments with the sound may render the album unfit for the ”classic”-label, the material is still soothing and catchy as hell. Mayer Hawthorne lets his raspy voice do all the singing and writing on the record, and he apparently plays most of the instruments, too. A side-track experiment by a DJ, rapper, producer and singer alike, sure, but also 12 pieces of great music.
Out of those, it may be the singles that shine the brightest: ’Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out’ where Hawthorne plays out a break up in falsetto over a soft, rode-ridden beat, ‘Green Eyed Love’, another hypnotic falsetto hymn, and ’Maybe So, Maybe No’ with catchy horns and all the lightfulness of newfound love. ’Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’’ will have you skipping down the street, and there is a handful of ballads to set the mood right wherever you may find yourself. New ground is not broken, but Mayer Hawthorne has released a golden tribute to a golden era of music.
words Sven Carlsson