10 November, 2011@4:00 am
Mayer Hawthorne follows up his debut, A Strange Arrangement with How Do You Do; almost 45 minutes of tunes that ensure we do very well indeed. Hawthorne shows a range on this project that gives everyone something to get down to. Not abandoning the signature throwback sound that rendered him a standout in the R&B world, he interweaves new influences in a way that’s exquisite to the ear.
How Do You Do opens with “Get To Know You;” an intoxicating aural aphrodisiac that may have you thinking you put on the wrong album. Soon Mayer sets the story with the intro and you realize you’re in the right place. The mellow sound of the Flugelhorn and his lubricious vocal, offset by heart-tugging strings make this track a bit sexier than past work, yet a welcome surprise.
Next “A Long Time” enters feeling like an outtake from Steely Dan’s Gaucho – the coalescence of electric piano and guitar would make Fagen and Becker proud. Later in the album sequence “Finally Falling” and “News” similarly awaken memories of the band, if only for the slick genre blending. “Can’t Stop” holds an unexpected appearance by Snoop Dogg; the surprise not that Snoop makes the assist, but that he’s crooning right along with Mayer – and hitting every note. Within the first three tracks this album boldly taps into three dimensions of Hawthorne as a musician.
By “Dreaming” we’re back to the Mayer we know and love from his entrée; happily so, but still exhilarated from the dynamic hints of evolution. The bright piano driven ditty is enough to lift the grouchiest of spirits, and the next few cuts hold them there. The album closes out strong with “You’re Not Ready;” a love song perfect for slow dancing and “No Strings;” an up-tempo groove with impeccable drumming that makes a one night stand sound like bliss, but it’s not over. Bonus track “Henny and Gingerale” starts the party and promises to have the most reserved two-stepping after one sip.
All curveballs aside, the meat and potatoes is classic Mayer. He’s perfected his formula and expertly executed the new tricks up his proverbial sleeve. His song writing remains direct but clever, and hits all the relationship notes from piqued interest to falling in love. To the question, “How do you do?” the answer is “No complaints.”
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