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Man About Town
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  • Ladies and gentlemen, America's leading nerdy love man is back! Mayer Hawthorne established himself as a modern master of '60s- and '70s-style R&B on his first two albums, 2009's A Strange Arrangement and 2011's How Do You Do. If 2013's Where Does This Door Go was a bit less exciting than his breakout works, 2016's Man About Town shows Hawthorne's got most of his old mojo back. As on Where Does This Door Go, Hawthorne has folded some '70s soft rock into his formula ("Fancy Clothes" and "The Valley" could pass for Steely Dan in dim light). But the ingredients are better integrated here, and Man About Town has a welcome sense of glamour and groove throughout. "Cosmic Love" and "Breakfast in Bed" are memorable slow jams suitable for your next make-out mix. "Lingerie and Candlewax" is highly recommended if you want to move that party to the next level, and "Get You Back" is a glorious brokenhearted plea to the one who got away. As always, Hawthorne impresses as a vocalist and as a songwriter, evoking the sound and style of the past while giving the music a sleek, up-to-date mindset. While he handles most of the production and instrumental chores himself, when he does bring in collaborators they give the tracks an emphatic and very human swing. Like raw silk, Man About Town is smooth but it has texture, and that makes it feel all the more satisfying. Mayer Hawthorne is a bit too far along in his career to surprise us with his work, and Man About Town doesn't boast much in the way of radical steps forward. But it confirms the man is still very good at what he does. From front to back, Man About Town is a real pleasure, and it's pretty hard to get too much of that. ~ Mark Deming
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