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BLACKsummers'night (Deluxe Version)

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Album Review

Maxwell spent part of the eight years between his third and fourth studio albums walking the Earth, attempting to experience a life resembling that of a human. One of neo-soul's most visible faces, along with Lauryn Hill and D'Angelo, he had been on the music industry's hamster wheel for most of his twenties and needed some tangible inspiration. At some point he got down to scheming and quite a lot of recording; BLACKsummers'night is the first release of a trilogy, with BlackSUMMERS'night (rooted in gospel, with a twist, apparently) and Blacksummers'NIGHT (promised as a disc of slow jams) to follow. Just as he arrived in 1996, offering an alternate option to the exaggerated masculinity that was dominating contemporary R&B, he returns as the airwaves are stuffed with raging hormones expressed through Auto-Tune. He has made no concessions to them. BLACKsummers'night is all devotion, regret, and heartache, written with Now collaborator Hod David and played by a session band, including a horn section, that sounds closer to a touring band that has been supporting the singer for years. The musicians morph with every shift in emotion through arrangements that are unfailingly exquisite and sensitively nuanced, even when they are briskly played. If the singer got into adventures while he was away, he does not detail them during these 38 unified minutes, but he did go through a serious, failed relationship, just as "Pretty Wings," the album's floating pre-album single, suggested. Like the real-life flip side to Al Green's "Simply Beautiful" — the song Maxwell performed at the 2008 BET Awards, signaling his return — it's catharsis through bittersweet elegance, equal in its enamored resentment ("You toyed with my affliction/Had to fill out my prescription") and remorse ("I came wrong, you were right/Transformed your love into like"). Although the rest of the album leaves plenty of space for the most common form of pleading, the disarming "Fistful of Tears" is as impassioned as the steamiest moments and indicates the complexity of Maxwell's relationship: "'Cause I go insane, crazy sometimes/Trying to keep you from losing your mind/Open your eyes, see what's in front of your face/Save me my fistful of...tears." For all its dimensions and progress, the album is simultaneously designed to ensure that devoted fans will feel the wait was worth it. After all, its opening lines are "Make me crazy, don't speak no sound/I want you to prove it to me in the nude," and they are sung in falsetto. [A CD/DVD edition was also released.]

Customer Reviews

Way to make a come back Maxwell!!!

It's funny, initially when listened to this album, I was somewhat disappointed. I was expecting to hear the same sounds that I have been listening to for the last 10 years. This was my mistake, given this man has grown both personally and musically, and I was unable to acknowledge this fact, refusing to let go of the past and the music I repeatedly listened to for the last 8 years since the last album.

This album is extremely mature, soulful, dark and sexy. Maxwell’s music has evolved tremendously. Despite being able to reconnect the sound of this album to his previous work, this one seems to have a nice dose of maturity.

I’m glad I gave this album second try, I’ve been listening to it nonstop for the last 2 weeks.

Welcome back Maxwell… we missed you!

-S

So refreshing!!! Welcome back Maxwell!!!

Yes indeed, auto-tune has killed music... and Maxwell's return with BLACKsummers'night just proved that GOOD music is still worth the wait. Might take time (in this case almost 10 YEARS!!!) to do a deep soul searching and express valuable emotion (and not just primal instincts) in each song, but at the end of the day, it's worth it both for the artist and the public. In songs like "Pretty Wings" or "Love you", Maxwell expresses emotions with a disarming honesty, making his album worth topping the Bilboard charts! In an era where artists kind of sound alike, this is actually an album worth every penny I spent buying it. Thank you Mr and welcome back!!!

WHAT A DESAPOINTMENT

when the man that is our modern day marvin gaye and our male version of Sade takes a break for 10 years, you count the days until he comes back. He finally does and the album sounds like Ashanti at her worse...we have a million R&B cheezy singers already, what are you doing Max? You are too good for that, I hope you go back where you belong, Your BIGGEST FAN

Biography

Born: May 23, 1973 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Along with fellow founders D'Angelo and Erykah Badu, Maxwell was enormously important in defining and shaping the neo-soul movement that rose to prominence over the latter half of the '90s. Drawing his greatest inspiration from the concept of the R&B auteur (looking to artists like Prince, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, etc.), Maxwell recorded some of the most ambitious R&B of his time, becoming wildly popular and often earning critical raves in...
Full bio