If the barbershop quartet didn't tip you off, I'll just come out and say it: Mayer Hawthorne is almost completely unoriginal. His voice is a whiteboy version of Smokey Robinson's, his songs are straight out of the Motown playbook, and his lyrics consist mainly of the word "girl" with various verbs around it.
As anybody who's listened to Blueprint 3 knows, though, originality is overrated. Particularly when you're trafficking in 60's soul, whose template for success is as narrow and exacting as it is fucking perfect. The genius of Mayer is that he doesn't so much push this old template forward as nudge it a few inches over - the drums a little louder, the falsetto a little smoother. The songs, too, never stray too far from the Sam Cooke/Marvin Gaye 3 minute blueprint, where there's nothing extra, and no second is wasted. And some of them, like "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out" and "Make Her Mine", are actually brilliant in their own ways, managing to add to the deep soul canon rather than just borrow from it. Chalk Mayer up with groups like Menahan St. Band and El Michels Affair as dudes who get the throwback-to-the-future steez correct. And if you don't believe that, believe this: your girlfriend will love it.