YaGirlB is back with a music review...

Artist: Maxwell
Album: BLACKsummers'night
Release date: July 7,2009

It is tradition that, to get in the mood for a new cd, I listen to the previous cd of the particular artist. And, with Maxwell's cd, it was no exception (although his music is music that constantly stays in rotation).

Listening to Maxwell's Now cd, in anticipation for the delightful sounds of BLACKsummers'night, I started to become taken over by feelings of soul, maturity, funk, love, and blues. I don't get that feeling often at all nowadays unless I am reminiscing about the good old days of music actually being about something (It's still out there... unfortunately, to get to it, you have to kiss someone thru the phone and go through unnecessary birthday sex). It seems like the artists of the Neo-Soul era, the last classic era of rhythm & blues music, have fallen through the cracks (D'Angelo... that one was for you, my fallen brutha), and given way to these cookie-cutter, radio-friendly freakfests of songs (usually assisted by our good friend, the Auto-tone).

Maxwell is the undisputed king of Neo-Soul. His albums are like a timeline of growth and maturity: we begin with Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite, which is a sexy, sensuous journey through what could be called the rollercoasters of twentysomething (filled with passionate meetings, sensuous sex, and post-coital bliss) romance and love (and sex). Then we move to Embrya, which decribes growth, transition, moving towards maturity. It was a very organic album, paying tribute to the soul of the 70s. He left us with Now, in 2001, which was, compared to Urban Hange Suite, a journey through more mature love and adulthood.

Eight years later, Maxwell brings us BLACKsummers'night, the first in a trilogy of three albums, to be released over the course of the next three summers. This album is definitely a welcome to this summer of less than stellar R&B and soul. The lead single off the album is 'Pretty Wings' which tells the tale of love at the wrong time. The simple melody (complete with bell/wind chime effects) and Maxwell's falsetto make this an instant summer classic for those summer jams or club nights where the DJ needs to slow it down. Like albums in the past, this album is about love, although on a different note. There aren't any tracks seducing the listener's earlobes or wedding songs (ala 'This Woman's Work'), but of mature love. No stand-out stories; just a harmonious tale of the trials and tribulations of mature love. 'Bad Habits' (my favorite track) and 'Stop the World' are on the slower, melodic side, while 'Love Is' exhibits injections of 70s era funk. 'Playing Possum' is another good track, about love that is gone, and cannot come back.

Although I would've liked a couple of more tracks on this album, a 9-track Maxwell is more valuable musically than the marjority of these 15/16 track albums put out by the R&B artists of today. This albums serves as a reminder that Neo-Soul is not dead, and will be resurrected to push out the influx of replaceable R&B artists (I'm pretty sure that Trey Songz, T-Pain, and Jeremih are a little nervous now). Buy BLACKsummers'night and you will not be disappointed at all. It will definitely entertain those dark and black summer's night.

- B

Favorite tracks: 'Bad Habits', 'Playing Possum', 'Pretty Wings'