Maxwell, the alpha male of neo-soul, returns to bless us with his BLACKsummers’night, the sensuous opening installment of the artist’s monumental BLACKSUMMERS’NIGHT trilogy. The trilogy’s subsequent chapters, blackSUMMERS’night and blacksummers’NIGHT, are slated for release in 2010 and 2011 respectively. This album is exactly what the industry needs right now; real music, real emotions, and most importantly no vocoder, or throwaway beats.
The album’s opener “Bad Habit” brings Maxwell’s famous falsetto back to life, highlighting a bad habit of his with playful lyrics “When I’m sober I jones for you/when it’s over I’m overdue”. The lite-funky ”Cold” suits his opulent vocals like a tailor-made garment. The albums heart-rending first single “Pretty Wings” is bettered by the mixture of music box chimes, and throbbing beat giving the song a very fresh sound.
The jazzy, piano-tinged ballad “Love You” offers one of the quirkiest lyrics I have heard in recent memory “You come out from no where, disappear and reappear/Houdini would be very proud”.
“Fistful Of Tears” captures his distinctive raspy vocals inimitably, a power ballad similar to his earlier work. The album’s most melancholic moment is the acoustic-driven “Playing Possum”, a heart-wrenching song powered by Maxwell’s crooning and the ethereal background music.
While the album doesn’t offer something much different to his earlier work, it doesn’t sound like his earlier work either. It’s like he pioneered a signature sound years ago and is continuously perfecting it by growing in his element,
Maxwell might’ve disappeared for eight long years, but his music-making mastery has never been so apparent. BLACK is rich with real instruments, pulsating beats, and chocolate rich vocal delivery from one of our time’s greatest vocalists.