Review: Maxwell, ‘Blacksummers’ Night’

Maxwell, ‘Blacksummers’ Night’: Aidin Vaziri | With his towering Afro and silk shirts unbuttoned to the navel, Maxwell was the natural pinup of the ’90s neo-soul movement. But like his closest rival, D’Angelo, the 36-year-old Brooklyn native has spent most of the current decade lost in the wilderness, taking only tentative steps back into the spotlight last year with a handful of live shows. This week, the freshly shorn R&B star officially resurfaces with his long-in-the-making fourth studio album, “BLACKsummers’ Night,” the first in a proposed trilogy of releases. Despite reports of ongoing creative struggles with his record label, the music isn’t all that dissimilar to that of his previous release, 2001’s chart-topping “Now.” Maxwell’s falsetto sounds a little rougher here, but his brand of mellow hot-tub funk still pulsates with sensual bass lines, well-mannered horn blasts and quasi-spiritual lyrics about getting it on. It’s the songwriting that wobbles, with the dainty first single, “Pretty Wings,” floating above the modest soul of more typical album cuts such as “Bad Habits” and “Love You.”

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