[Album Review] Maxwell – “blackSUMMERS’night”





Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Maxwell released his fifth studio album blackSUMMERS’night on July 1st. His last studio album was released in 2009, BLACKsummers’night. This album has contributions from his long time collaborators Hod David and Musze. It also features musicians—Kenneth Whalum III, Robert Glasper, Darryl “Lil Man” Howell, Mark ColenburgDerrick Hodge, Shedrick Mitchell, and Keyon Harrold. Also, songwriter/producer Stuart Matthewman is featured as well as background vocals from LaTina Webb.


“All the Ways Love Can Feel” is a vintage soul sound with 70’s inspired instrumentation. The horn arrangement is excellent, as well the harmonizing melody of the chorus. The bass line, and rim shot in “The Fall” is extraordinary. The use of the organ is great, as well as the Latin vamp to the end. “III” has a infectious, and repetitive melody. The horn arrangements are again immaculate. The song is simply the count of the groove, “That one.” James Brown style. The percussion in “Hostage” is amazing, the lyrics are talking about being in captivity of love. “Gods” is about a woman who won’t commit to him. He’s willing to love, but she won’t reciprocate. Her love is fabricated. “Lost” has a nice mix of blues rhythmically. “Of All Kind” has refreshing production, and “Listen Hear” is a guitar-driven melody with warm piano key sounds. The album ends with “Night” just simple sounds of the ocean.


The soul singer has a formula of just simply not losing the integrity in music. The influences of the singers before him leading him to simply sing about the hopes of love, as well as the downsides of love. The percussion is a definite highlight from the album. It’s the center piece of the groove in most of the songs. His ability to create timeless sounds is the magic behind using analog equipment. Not only is he just collaborating with his longtime musical partners. He adds new musicians as well, who create those impromptu moments in the production that are refreshing. Once again, Maxwell is an artist who will always stay consistent with concepts of albums, and understanding the essence of pure soul music.


blackSUMMERS’night is available in stores now; it also available on all digital outlets.