Maxwell Takes Flight With 'Pretty Wings' Single, Readies Album

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After a eight-year hiatus, R&B singer Maxwell is returning with his long-awaited, oft-delayed fourth studio album, "BLACKsummer'snight," slated for a July 7th release on Columbia Records. The album's first single, "Pretty Wings," debuted today (April 28), with the accompanying video premiering on BET's "106 & Park" this afternoon.

The nine-track set is the first installment of a planned trilogy and was recorded with a ten-piece band. Entirely self-produced by the Brooklyn-born artist, "BLACKsummer'snight" features no guest appearances so far, although at press time Maxwell was still mastering two tracks.

On the lullaby-like "Pretty Wings," Maxwell croons, "I had to set you free, to see clearly / the way that love can be when you are not with me / I had to leave, let love set you free to fly your pretty wings," over xylophone clings and guitar strings.

Other tracks include the regretful "Bad Habits," a mid-tempo number with big horns and layered voice-overs; "Cold," about a cold-hearted lover; the uptempo "Love You," on which Maxwell pleads, "tell me I can be your man / baby let me love you," over an organ groove; the jazz-like "Stop The World," with heavy guitars and kick drums; the piano-laden "Fist Full of Tears;" and the inspirational "Help Somebody," which finds Maxwell singing, "help me be the helping hand / and make a dream come true," over marching band drums.

"Bad Habits" and "Stop The World" are both tentative follow-up singles.

To promote "BLACKsummer'snight," Maxwell will be touring this summer, as well as headlining the Essence Music Fest on July 4th. This trek follows his fall 2008 tour, Maxwell's first in six years. Although not supported by any new material, the tour sold out every stop.

Maxwell's last album, 2001's "Now," has sold 1.8 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen Soundscan.