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In our final look at 2013′s best soul / R&B releases, we have Mayer Hawthorne’s third LP, Where Does This Door Go?. Signed to Stones Throw right around the same time they picked up Aloe Blacc, it wouldn’t be long before he too was snatched up by the major label system, to spread his brand of blue-eyed soul to a wider audience.

On his latest album, Mayer has settled into a comfortable groove, effortlessly creating classically styled R&B, showing influences from greats like The Isley Brothers, Steely Dan, and Hall & Oates. The album’s lead single, “Her Favorite Song” is a modern classic, as the funky, smoothed out cut finds him trading bodya’s over a lush waterbed of sounds. The same can be said for its follow-up, “Crime”, featuring Kendrick Lamar, which musically channels images of Cali beaches and sunsets.

Mayer’s a bit less aggressive than say, Robin Thicke’s poppier take on the genre, yet still makes no apologies about the context of his lyrics. “Back Seat Lover” is a humorous ode to the seedier side of going to a drive-in movie, while the Pharrell produced “Wine Glass Woman” is nicer way of telling drunk girls to back off.

As mentioned earlier, Mayer makes no excuses for borrowing from his forefathers, as “Reach Out Richard” clearly has elements of Steely Dan’s “Peg”, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. His hip-hop influence comes through all over the record, as “Corsican Rose´” subtly infuses trap rhythms under the otherwise buttery groove, while “The Innocent” is driven by cut-up, transformed air horns.

While Where Does This Door Go has been described as “a departure from his throwback style”, yet this is still very much a classically fashioned soul LP. Refreshingly, it’s influences come from the timeless music of the 70′s and 80′s, rather than recycling the tired trends of today. Once again, Mayer has created another solid, respectable, and most of all consistent LP here; its only a matter of time before the rest of the world knows his name.

  Mixtape D.L.
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