Although Detroit-via-Ann Arbor R&B crooner Mayer Hawthorne would never admit his sultry jams often owe more to the Bee-Gees than the Motown bands he so obviously adores, that doesn’t mean said jams aren’t impeccably tailored slices of pure pop escapism. Juxtaposing newest single “A Long Time” to old VHS footage of “The New Dance Show”, a public-access staple in Detroit in the 80’s and 90’s, might have come off as ridiculous as the loud prints, bright sunglasses and high fades on display in the clip. But just like seminal Motown hitmaker Marvin Gaye, Hawthorne’s fun-loving groove and earnest lyrics shoot a bright ray of light through a city/state too often burdened with an unrelenting climate, dour economy and a vampiric press corps slumming for a story that’s already been printed countless time. In the span of three minutes, music and images combine to remind us of what makes a city like Detroit so rough, honest, and great, a continually surprising hotbed of inspired and inspiring art and music. Songs, styles and fortunes may change, but through it all the beat goes on.
[And lest you think this post was getting too serious, stick around for the masterful no-budget commercial tacked on to the end]