Maxwell, "BLACKsummers'night"

81 Billboard Rating

The adage goes: Time gone, time lost. But for R&B singer Maxwell, who has been on a hiatus from music since 2002, it's as if he never left. Full of heart-pounding melodies and true-to-life love stories, "BLACKsummers'night" is the first installment of a trilogy by Maxwell. Over xylophone and guitar riffs, the lullaby-like lead single, "Pretty Wings," finds the Brooklyn native belting, "I had to set you free, to see clearly/The way that love can be when you are not with me." On the humanitarian "Fistful of Tears," he pleads atop marching band drums, "Help me be the helping hand/And make a dream come true." Other tracks include "Cold," about a cold-hearted lover; "Love You," on which Maxwell pleads for his lady to let him love her over an organ-like groove; the inspirational "Help Somebody"; the jazz-tinged "Stop the World"; and the second single, "Bad Habits," a midtempo track with big horns and layered voice-over. "BLACKsummer'snight" is a testament that Maxwell hasn't lost a beat.

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