The list of recording artists who can take a 7-year sabbatical after having three highly successful albums, and still generate an aura of mystique about them is a very short one. As the age-old adage goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”
In an industry known for its short-term memory, you’re only as good as your last hit—but if you haven’t had a hit in almost a decade, due to the fact that you haven’t released any material; then what good are you?
Every generation has their own version of Marvin Gaye; someone that is able to swoon any female who comes in hearing distance of their soothing vocals, and in the same instance, take them on a euphoric musical journey.
Right now, as pre-teen girls are barricaded in their bedrooms, listening to artists who are identical in age, fantasizing about being the adolescent girl on their arm—chances are their 30-something-year-old mothers are in the next room doing the same exact thing, but with the soulful Maxwell being their daydream of choice.
The man from Brooklyn, New York who practically gave birth to the Neo-Soul movement back in the mid-to-late 90’s finally returns with his first album since Now, (which was released back in 2001).
After creating a buzz with ‘Pretty Wings,’ and by anchoring ‘Smile’ featuring Twista and Alchemist [Click for Alchemist interview], Maxwell answers the prayers of his diehard fans with BLACKsummers’night, (which is part one to a trilogy of albums).
His wild hair has been replaced with a more traditional look, but that’s as far as it goes change-wise. Maxwell’s distinctive countertenor voice rings throughout the 8-song project, (with the ninth, ‘Phoenix Rise’ being an outro-instrumental).
Each offering has its own separate theme, but in due course, it all fits into the grand scheme of the project. From songs like ‘Bad Habits,’ with its hypnotizing chorus, to the guitar and trumpet-riddled ‘Cold,’ where he forewarns those about crossing women the wrong way, to ‘Pretty Wings,’ where he talks about meeting the perfect woman, and how they’re unable to be together at the present moment.
He then gathers up more life experience with the acoustic guitar sounds of ‘Playing Possum,’ where he asks for forgiveness, and from there, ties in the emotional rollercoaster with ‘Fistful Of Tears,’ ‘Stop The World,’ and ‘Love You.’
Thirteen years removed from Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite, 11 years removed from Embrya, seven years removed from Now, and Maxwell’s creativeness, and ability to mesh spirituality, passion, and sensual overtones is once again on display with BLACKsummers’night.
Maxwell might have shut off the musical world for all of that time prior to the release of BLACKsummers’night, but from this album alone, it’s clear to see that in doing so, he was only readying himself for a fresh new start, with the same mentality.
Usually when an artist has such a long hiatus as he did, the pressure is there to fit into what’s currently going on.
But in Maxwell’s case, he chooses to remain true to himself, and to his fan base that has waited so diligently for his return—and from a fan’s point of view, staying true to your art form is all they could ever ask for…