Album Preview: Maxwell - 'BLACKsummers'night'

  /  07.06.2009


Maxwell is one lucky singer. Not many artists can take an eight-year hiatus and reemerge to fans’ open arms. The key to his success: his records, just like his voice, are timeless. The crooner’s fourth studio album, BLACKsummers’night, the first installment of a trilogy, is a testament to that enduring quality. Set for release tomorrow, the nine-track effort celebrates desire (“Stop the World”), advocates selflessness (“Help Somebody”), and walks through nostalgia (“Pretty Wings”). Delve into more of what this R&B singer has in store on his welcomed return.

1. “Bad Habits”
Opening with beautiful chimes, Maxwell delicately croons about the fix he needs: the love of his woman. As the track moves in deeper, the singer’s voice picks up pace, as if he can’t go one second more without his lady love.

2. “Cold”
This one could be the theme music during a lovers’ quarrel. Only at the end of the scene, the woman is the one packing up her bags. Backed by blaring horns, Maxwell sings of a woman who’s “on top” and “means business.”

3. “Pretty Wings”
The first single off his album, a listener can’t help but feel transported to a Chinese oasis as the track begins with delicate Asian-inspired chimes. The master of soothing R&B recalls the smile of a woman he once desired, knowing she was the right soulmate, just at the wrong time.

4. “Help Somebody”
Maxwell puts forth a preachy vibe on this uptempo jam, supported by a downpour of drums. But his advocacy for lending a hand to others is more than welcomed with these lyrics: “’Cause when I get up to hear you, tears just fill my eyes/ Now I know, I got to let the selfishness subside.”

5. “Stop the World”
The title pretty much sums up what the crooner intends to do while participating in “corporal relations” with his girl. Hitting those high falsettos he’s known for, Maxwell makes listeners weak in the knees as he gets deep in doing “things I can’t explain.”

6. “Love You”
Over a triumphant rhythm, the singer professes his love, almost as if just coming to the realization of his worldly desires for his woman. With a hint of bongos and keyboard splashes throughout, the tune celebrates his tender lyrics.

7. “Fistful of Tears”
One listen to this track is reason enough to understand why Maxwell fans get swept up in his visual wordplay. His voice, rising and falling over the piano keys, plays a verbal tug-of-war while weighing heavily on leaving a relationship behind or sticking with it for one last hoorah.

8. “Playing Possum”
With a title such as this, it’s clear the R&B singer is begging his love interest to forgo the games once and for all. Distressed lyrics (”Say what you will and won’t forget/ Express disappointment, speak your regrets”) and a somber trumpet solo demonstrate the anguish of the song.

9. “Phoenix Rise”
Though he’s recognized for his heartfelt ballads, Maxwell wraps up this effort with a rocking jazzy instrumental. Beginning with a euro-pop electronica feel, the tune showcases steady drums, trumpet blares, and sounds from the saxophone.

Click here to listen to BLACKsummers’night in its entirety.

–Georgette Cline


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