According to the Stones Throw website, Hawthorne, the pseudonym for one Andrew Mayer Cohen, has few of the background experiences that most legendary soul singers seem to have. He never sang in the church choir; he didn’t play in his high school jazz band; he never performed as the lead singer in a high school rock ‘n’ roll band; and he has no formal musical training. In fact, the only thing—and perhaps the most important thing—he has in common with the Curtis Mayfields, Otis Reddings, and Smokey Robinsons of the world is a deep and abounding love for rhythm and blues music. That love comes across like a sharp thwack to the noggin on A Strange Arrangement, with its falsetto vocals, doo-wop background singing, percolating horns, and hook-laden blues riffs.
[...]It’s an odd coincidence that A Strange Arrangement, an album devoted to recreating Robinson’s early work, should be released within months of Robinson’s own return to form. With Time Flies When You’re Having Fun, the 69-year-old R&B god has made an album semi-evocative of his Motown roots after an extended foray into contemporary soul/jazz. The true irony here is that, comparing the two releases, Hawthorne seems to have nailed the classic Robinson sound better than Robinson himself. If anything, A Strange Arrangement will hopefully turn a new generation onto a truly remarkable time in music.
Mayer's page @ Stones Throw records - Mayer @ MySpace -