Sunday, November 6, 2011


Blue-eyed soul lives!  I got a great new album by Darryl Hall lately, and then there's this guy, who's turning into the poster boy for 70's sweetness.  This is Hawthorne's second disc, and is killing me just like his 2009 debut did.  The guy lives for the great stuff, the Motown and Philly and Chicago 70's numbers, before disco and funk moved in.  You'll hear Curtis Mayfield, Spinners, Isaac Hayes, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Smokey Robinson, even a little bedroom Barry White.  It's not all slavish devotion to the era though; he can also drop some hop in there, and not too many white boys from Ann Arbor, Michigan get to duet with Snoop Dogg, but there's the man himself doin' in Doggy style on Can't Stop.

The Michigan thing obviously means a lot to him.  A Long Time is a message of hope to Detroit, and the dire situation the city finds itself in these days.  Hawthorne sings about how Henry Ford and Berry Gordy brought success and pride to the city before, and that somehow it will get that back.  Hawthorne writes everything here, plays lots of the instruments, and produces as well.  The guy's a giant.  Another cool cameo, and a bit more telling than the Snoop duet, comes from guitar giant Dennis Coffey.  The one-time Motown Funk Brother played on smash hits for the Temptations and many others, and had his own million-seller with Scorpio.  He loans his signature feel to a couple of numbers.

I like how Hawthorne bounces around the soul spectrum, not settling on one style, but offering it up like a buffet.  About half the tracks feature him in falsetto, and I really can't decide vocal style I like better, so I'm glad to have both.  As a die-hard Motown and Philadelphia International fan, this stuff was made for me, but if you ever like a Spinners or Miracles or Amy Winehouse song for that matter, check this out.

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