When your debut album is released on the taste-making underground label Stones Throw and declared fantastic by both John Mayer and Kanye West, you’re unbelievably cool and completely under the microscope. Such is the story of Mayer Hawthorne, the Ann Arbor, Michigan resident who early on did a lot of hip-hop things and such, but for the purposes of his second album and debut for the major label Universal, he’s the neo-soul singer with a gifted voice who uncannily sounds like a ‘60s-era Temptation given the 2011 ability to drop an F-bomb. That may sound like Cee Lo Green, and there’s no doubt that How Do You Do stands in the shadow the Goodie Mob member who got there first, but this particular bespectacled singer looks like a Wall Street intern, making his Motown jones all the more unexpected, and for some, suspect. On top of it, he retains a crate-crawling nerd’s love of nostalgic soul that’s very Stones Throw, so expect some overly authentic numbers where the adherence to an aesthetic is an arguable obstacle.
One of the last and most popular in a long line of traditional male vocalists who emerged before the rock-dominated 1960s, Johnny Mathis concentrated on romantic readings of jazz and pop standards for the ever-shrinking adult contemporary audience of the '60s and '70s. Though he debuted with a flurry of singles-chart activity, Mathis later made it big in the album market, where a dozen of his LPs hit gold or platinum and over 60 made the charts. While he concentrated on theme-oriented albums of show tunes and traditional favorites during the '60s, he began incorporating soft rock by the '70s and remained a popular concert attraction well into the '90s.