Maxwell has artfully managed to transfix music lovers for more than two decades now, releasing four studio albums, all in his own time - all duly anointed as classics. Now, the Brooklyn-born soul legend returns with his fifth album, blackSUMMERS'night, the long-awaited second installment of his trailblazing trilogy, a powerful reminder that great music really is about more than moving the twitter needle.
With sonic aspirations and priorities intact, and gathering many of the contributors on board for his previous albums, Maxwell says the ‘operative' driving theme on the new album is ‘summer.' The first single, the stunning "Lake By The Ocean" kick-crosses diced-up drum grooves to the singer's undulating sensuality. His legendary vocal nuances are even richer now, commanding our attention with less on blackSUMMERS'night, seductively shifting intonation and meaning as he reaches for more than just a reprise on the sequel; a master fully in charge of his instrument.
It's all there on songs such as the album's boogie blast of an opener, "All The Ways Love Can Feel," and the intensely brewed confessional "The Fall"; on the hopeful "Fingers Crossed," and bright funk of "III," where he furtively name-checks Michelle Obama. The free-floating blues-driven "Lost" and "Listen Hear" are also standouts, two songs that Maxwell says simply "flowed through" him in one take.
He credits vigorous recording sessions with his longtime co-producer Hod David as bringing shape to the album. "The times change and the stakes get bigger, but when you've worked with the same guy since you were 17 there's no faking it," he adds.