Written by Angelo Gingerelli
Twenty years after his debut album (1996’s Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite) and seven years after the first entry in this trilogy (2009’s BLACKsummer’snight”) Maxwell is back with another collection of slow jams for the grown & sexy.
Since pioneering the neo-soul movement in the late 90’s (along with D’Angelo, Erykah Badu and others) Maxwell has carved out his own unique niche in the R&B genre by being himself and catering to his core audience. He’s never extensively collaborated with rappers, hooked up with the hot producer of the minute or catered to current radio tastes. Instead, he’s stayed the course he started with his first project and has continued making sensual, emotional and mature R&B that is more suited for the bedroom than the club.
blackSUMMERS’night is no different and will definitely please fans that have been waiting seven years for another dose of Maxwell’s pillow talk. The album starts off with three fairly uptempo tracks that set the tone for the album nicely, “All The Ways That Love Can Feel” starts things off with an examination of, you guessed it, all the ways that love can feel, “The Fall” is a mid-tempo jam to get listener in the mood and “III” contains the lyric “I just want a Michelle Obama lady to hold me down when the world’s crazy “ which of all the rappers/singers that have referenced the Obamas, Maxwell is one of the few you can actually imagine them enjoying.
After those first few uptempo (by Maxwell’s standards) songs, we get down to business and Maxwell’s focus stays firmly focused on the bedroom. This is “adult contemporary” music in the best sense of the term. This isn’t post-prom hook-up music, instead it’s tailor made for couples making love on 1,000 thread count sheets after the mortgage is paid, the lawn is mowed and the kids are asleep. Put simply, it’s “Baby Making Music” for people ready to have babies. Considering how few artists make music for this demographic, it makes sense that Maxwell has found his place among this crowd. Highlights of this section of the alum include “Lake By The Ocean” and “1990x” but honestly, it’s all solid and deserves a listen.
While the album is definitely one of the best R&B projects of the year, the one drawback for non-R&B afficionados is that some of the songs seem to blend into each other and at points it’s hard to differntiate the tracks based on similar themes and tempos. However, fans of the genre or anybody looking to set the tone for an evening with that special someone, should find this an asset instead of a liability.
Overall, Maxwell’s newest release carries on his tradition of Grown & Sexy R&B and should appeal to anyone interested in the genre. Now let’s all hope it’s not another seven years until we can hear blacksummer’sNight.
Best Songs: “All The Ways That Love Can Feel,” “Lake By The Ocean,” “1990x”
Perfect For: A quiet night for two with a fireplace, a bearskin rug, a bottle of champagne and well, you know…
Rating 8 out of 10