Videos by American Songwriter
Where Does This Door Go, the third album by Los Angeles neo-soul crooner Mayer Hawthorne, begins post-coitally. There’s a satisfied moan, a pair of pants being zipped up, and a woman’s voice saying, “Wait, you’re not going to tell anyone about this right?”, only to be followed by a surprised “Huh?!” It’s a slightly sleazy, somewhat comical way to introduce the album, but with the first proper track, “Backseat Lover,” Hawthorne commits to being that low-down secret mister on the down-low, and he owns the part, no matter how seamy. But Hawthorne doesn’t do sweatily scandalous slow jams like R. Kelly or electro boudoir ballads like Usher. His point of reference skews a bit earlier — late ‘70s Marvin Gaye, Michael McDonald — and frankly, it looks good on him. Hawthorne mines polyester grooves, crackly sample beds and rich, analog production for his vintage soul sound, and it’s a wonderfully sumptuous thing. None of this is to say that Where Does This Door Go revolutionizes R&B, but in its brightest moments, like the funk pulse of “Wine Glass Woman,” the gorgeous twinkle of “The Innocent,” or the fuzz-bass thump of “Her Favorite Song,” it offers one of the most purely enjoyable listening experiences in soul this year.
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