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Mayer Hawthorne smooths it out in Denver

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Mayer Hawthorne, who performed in Denver on Feb. 11, has always been an artist who wore his influences on his sleeve. It's a mixed blessing, then, that he's finally become overwhelmed by them.

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Generally labeled as a “neo-soul” artist, Hawthorne has long been one of the most prominent modern carriers of the classic R&B torch. Something of a hybrid of Buddy Holly and Barry White, even Hawthorne himself would be hard-pressed to argue that he's not a throwback.

As of the his new album (2013's “Where Does This Door Go”), though, Hawthorne has ditched his ironic white boy soul outlook (not to mention his glasses) and gone serious – think Robin Thicke minus the sexuality. When the night's biggest thrills are covers of Bel Biv Devoe and Run DMC, you know that your original work has a problem.

Which is a shame. As recently as late 2012, Hawthorne was as original as they come. Here's hoping he finds his way back there soon.

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