In the past couple of years I have really got into the music of Maxwell thanks to hearing his MTV Unplugged session featuring the fabulous "This Woman's Work". He is one of the finest performers in the sub genre of Neo Soul, During the summer he released his latest album. It is the fourth studio album from Maxwell and his first in eight years!!. Although he has sold millions of albums worldwide he is unfortunately still mostly a critically acclaimed artist rather than huge selling artist.
It seems that Neo Soul artists have a preference for joining words together, I mentioned this on my recent review of Musiq Soulchild And Maxwell is the same with the album title "BLACKsummer'snight" not with the tracks. After a long break he is back in the mood and this album is the first instalment in a planned trilogy of albums with one following next year and the year after. His break just became eight years.
1. Bad Habits
3. Pretty Wings
4. Help Somebody
5. Stop the World
6. Love You
7. Fistful of Tears
8. Playing Possum
9. Phoenix Rise
"Bad Habits" opens the album with an emotional bang with his trademark falsetto dripping with emotion. This is just his voice, a drum beat and laid back Organ which then fully develops. This is a great start to the album which shows the fantastic range of his voice and the flow of the music. This track really gets you in the mood and sets you up for the rest of the album.
"Cold" is next up and is a funky jazzed up track which is a little different from the opener. Maxwell sings over a gorgeously Jazzy mix of Sax, Trumpet and Trombone with some great organ work too. This is a fantastic cut of Modern Jazz with some great bass guitar licks to top things off. Brilliant and very vibrant.
This is a lovely soft slice of Neo Soul with Maxwell really showing off his great vocal tone on this flowing ballad with THAT Falsetto he waxes lyrical about how being in love makes him feel. The music is simple yet very affective and this track has such a refreshing, soulful feel that it is so relaxing. Just sit back, close your eyes and listen to this track. Wow.
This track opens with catchy keyboard and beats and then the vocal comes in, This is another brilliantly flowing track. This is the fastest paced track on the album and Has a great horn section which pins everything together. This is another brilliant track. Different from the previous tracks but still so affective.
"Stop the world"
This is a fabulous track which features soft guitar and keys with a simple beat. This track is a little reminiscent of Prince with a fantastic falsetto vocal as well as the lower vocal which Prince often moves into after a great falsetto part. This is a brilliant track about everything being so much better when you are with that someone.
This opens with a brilliant keyboard melody and then the catchy drum beat kicks in, this is a contrast between the gentle keys and the fast tempo of the beat. This works extremely well. This track is about saying to someone "just let me love you". I heard a little of a Bryn Christopher sound on this track. Great stuff.
"Fist Full of Tears"
OH WOW!!!!!!!, was my reaction when I heard this song. This is as good as the tremendous "This Woman's Work". A Simple jumpy keyboard piece is backed by a simple beat and some lovely backing. This is an awesome track which shows the sincerity and brilliant vocal tone to his voice. This track is just brilliant. To top this off it has a very unique guitar solo.
A gentle guitar opens this track, and every couple of seconds some very light percussion comes in. This is a tender ballad and is the slowest and most stripped down track on the album. It's also one of the best and a clearly brilliant setting for his gorgeous falsetto to be so effective. Brilliant track.
Sounds like an American show similar to One Tree Hill or The OC but this is actually the closer to BLACKsummer'snight. It features a dance track like keyboard opening which again shows his musical range. The beat then comes in with a fast pace and the guitar then comes in. This is very different to anything else on the album and once the funky bass comes in you know this is going to be a great instrumental. A Fabulous end to a fabulous album.
This is a fabulous album and despite being Maxwell's first in eight years it is a remarkable piece of work that is amongst the best albums of 2009. I cannot wait for the next instalment of the BLACKsummer'snight trilogy which is set to be titled "blackSUMMERS'night" out next year. This is a stonkingly good album which I would recommend to Paul Hanton in particular.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Bad Habits
3 Pretty Wings
4 Help Somebody
5 Stop The World
6 Love You
7 Fist Full Of Tears
8 Playing Possum
9 Phoenix Rise