MAXWELL, “blackSUMMERS’night” ALBUM REVIEW

Maxwell has very, very interesting magics. One of the magics is his music makes any type of listeners feel they’re emotionally beautiful while they are impressed by Maxwell’s neverending talent. When I first listened “Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite” upon his debut, I thought how this beautiful music was created from the street of East New York, Brooklyn, one of the toughest neighborhood in New York City. His refined and intellectual music made them feel like their dirty minds are washed out. I wrote “any type of listeners”. That includes male listeners, not only female listeners. If guys say they’re not among those listeners, how many of them did NOT feel they felt they were beautiful inside while listening “This Woman’s Work”, with forgetting its original version was actually sung by Kate Bush. Even tough guys were emotionally touched by Maxwell’s version. I witnessed many times.

Maxwell’s music have some feminine side especially his high tone voice, but his overall music is never really feminine. Not masculine or sexually neutral, but his music is definitely a man’s music. His sound and lyrics are more on men’s side. That’s his magic #2 and different point with Prince, who was more neutral. I think Maxwell always reflects the men’s soft side on his melodies, which any kind of men has.

Maxwell’s magic #3. All his albums sound like similar, but actually, never be the same. All his albums are always soft contemporary, jazzy, some R&B and neo-soul. He doesn’t really try new things (maybe covering Kate Bush was the biggest exception?). See, he has never tried hip hop or rock sound. His songs aren’t pop. His songs are mostly low key. It’s easy to identify Maxwell’s music because he established his music sound. But when we compare his albums, it’s noticeable that all his albums are actually different. He has always released different products without derailing from his styles. And most notably, he is one of a few musicians hasn’t made a just average quality album. Good quality and high standard are always promised with his albums. I consider Maxwell as a very stable songwriter.

Maxwell’s the newest album, “blackSUMMER’snight”, is same with those 3 magics. “blackSUMMER’snight” is again dominated by his signature refined and artistic jazzy/neo-soul sound. The sound of his new album is again sentimental but this is still a man’s album, not really feminine. His vocal style isn’t changed. Not many surprises, nothing much new, Maxwell’s new material is pretty much what I imagined.  A nice high-quality album with beautiful sound as always. Probably the biggest surprise about the new album is that the title was really same with the last album except the usage of bold letters. Maxwell told that the title would be “blackSUMMER’snight” when he released “BLACKsummer’snight”, but I thought he would change his mind. Why? Because it was long 7 years ago.

“blackSUMMER’snight” is, however, different with the previous “BLACKsummer’snight”. Sounds similar but different. The only clear similarities are the album title except the position of bold letters, as well as both ended with all instrumental songs. “BLACKsummer’snight”, released in 2009, had darker and a little more aggressive elements than the new “blackSUMMER’snight”. Also, “blackSUMMER’snight” has more laid back sound than “BLACKsummer’snight”. So yes, “blackSUMMER’snight” is more summer material than “BLACKsummer’snight” if I compare those two, like the position of bold lettered words. I think the songs of those two albums aren’t really mixable together.

Also, “blackSUMMER’snight” isn’t really a summer album like its previous album, and not really for spending hot summer nights romantically either. Only refreshing songs of the latest album are the first single “Lake By the Ocean”and “Of All Kind”. “Lost” has darker and deep blues sounds than any of “BLACKsummer’snight” songs. My opinion is his music is more autumn than summer if I describe his music by seasons because a lot of his melodies are filled with sentiments.

I personally like the previous “BLACKsummer’snight” better than the new album because I think each song of “BLACKsummer’snight” has a stronger impact than those on “blackSUMMER’snight”. But I can enjoy listening “blackSUMMER’snight” with confidence as usual.

So Maxwell’s next album would be “blacksummers’NIGHT” with the different type of contents again. Hopefully, his next album won’t be after 7 or 8 years again and he doesn’t get used to the long interval between albums.

“blackSUMMER’snight” SONG LIST

  1. All the Ways Love Can Feel
  2. The Fall
  3. III
  4. Lake By the Ocean
  5. Fingers Crossed
  6. Hostage
  7. 1990X
  8. Gods
  9. Lost
  10. Of All Kind
  11. Listen Hear
  12. Night

LISTEN “blackSUMMER’snight” BY MAXWELL (iTunes/Apple Music/Amazon)

*About the cover photo: The photo was taken at Maxwell’s concert at Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk. That was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen!! Must watch!! I will definitely write about his concert shortly​.

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