For years, yours truly has been a big fan of Michigan-born, LA-based singer-songwriter Mayer Hawthorne, mainly because of his cool, pseudo-Motown, distinctly soulful vocal style. But it looks like he might be going in a different direction on his third album. On his first two releases -- 2009's A Strange Arrangement and 2011's How Do You Do -- Mayer produced all the songs himself in addition to handling most of the vocal duties. But in a recent interview with Billboard magazine, he revealed that he's expanding his horizons and collaborating with other artists and producers, including Pharrell Williams and Jack Splash. But it was another producer, Rodney Jerkins, who indirectly helped guide the album's sound, Mayer said in the interview:
""I played him a few demos I had done and I explained to him my vision for the record, and he basically told me I would have to scrap everything and start over again because I couldn't have any seventh chords in any of the songs 'cause it was too jazzy -- 'too soulful' were his words, I believe," the singer explained. "So after that, I decided that every single song on this new record would have to have a seventh chord in it."
One of those songs is Mayer's new single, "Designer Drug," on which he compares the object of his affection to various legal and illegal substances. "You are my designer drug," he sings. "And only you help me, I can't get enough." The uptempo tune has a sort of '80s disco vibe to it, which is definitely a change of pace from his usual '70s pop-Soul sound. The tune can be streamed via the link below, and when the full details regarding the album it's due to appear on become known, they'll be posted right here.
Some of the more interesting R&B-related news and rumors from the past week:
- Justin Timberlake's new album, The 20/20 Experience, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 968,000 copies in its first week. 20/20, which was released March 19, is Timberlake's second No. 1 album and marks his best sales week to date. It follows his last release, 2006's FutureSex/LoveSounds, which arrived atop the list with his previous sales high: 684,000 copies.
- Bobby Brown and his wife Alicia Etheredge-Brown have filed a million dollar defamation lawsuit against the owner of the National Enquirer over a story the gossip rag published alleging that Bob and his ex, Whitney Houston had been planning to remarry before Whitney's untimely death in February 2012.
- The TV One reality series "R&B Divas" returns to the network for its second season Wed., May 1. In celebration, the network is branding the month of April "Destination Divas" and is packing its schedule with a mix of new original specials, iconic movies and sitcoms, plus encores of R&B Divas season one.
- India.Arie's luscious new single, "Cocoa Butter," is slated for release to radio stations on April 1, 2013 and will be available for purchase through digital retailers on April 9. The song's about the healing power of love.
- On John Legend's newly-released single, "Who Do We Think We Are," he sings about a couple that has the nerve and audacity to actually live their lives to the fullest and have a great time doing it.
- Among the R&B/Soul artists who may be playing a venue near you between late March and mid-June are Rihanna, Beyonce, Prince and Alicia Keys, who's currently on tour with Miguel.
- On his 13th studio album, R&B legend Brian McKnight proves that he still has one of the purest, most silky-smooth voices in urban music. Unfortunately, his style has grown stale.
- The-Dream is expected to officially release his fifth album, IV PLAY, on May 28, 2013.
Spring has officially sprung, and with the warmer weather comes more entertainment options, including concerts. And this spring, some of the bigger names in R&B and Soul music are out touring the U.S., North America and even the entire world. Among those who may be playing at a venue near you between late March and mid-June are: Rihanna, who's in the midst of her 27-date "Diamonds" world tour right now; Beyonce, whose latest tour begins with 23 shows in Europe from mid-April through late May before migrating over to North America for an additional 22 shows. Also touring is his purple majesty, Prince, who'll perform 28 shows in seven cities in April and May; and Alicia Keys, who's on tour with Miguel from early March through mid-April. Click the link below for more details on the hottest R&B/Soul music tours of Spring 2013.
It's been a long four years since India.Arie released her most recent studio album (2009's Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics), but according to her music label, a new release will be on it's way to stores later this year. India's devoted fans have heard that before -- several times in fact -- but this time it looks like it will actually happen. Not only does her fifth album now have an official title, SongVersation, there's even a mid-summer release date attached to it. And here's a few more details: it was recorded in Los Angeles as well as in India's hometown of Atlanta, and was produced by India herself and Grammy-winning songwriter Shannon Sanders, with additional production from singer-songwriter David Ryan Harris and songwriter Michael Ruff. But the most convincing piece of evidence that her upcoming album is near is that a brand new single, "Cocoa Butter," is slated for release to radio stations on April 1, 2013. The song is about the healing power of love:
"My heart was bruised, that's what happens when you use it, someone turned it all black and blue, it's been that way so long the sight became familiar, and then your love came in, just like a natural healer," she sings. "You've got a way of making it all okay, you make it okay, your love is like cocoa butter on my heart."
India's SongVersation album is due in stores June 25 via Songbird/Motown, and "Cocoa Butter" will be available at digital retailers beginning April 9. But you don't have to wait until the song hits iTunes or the radio to hear it: it can be streamed via the top link below.