Thursday, July 9, 2009
Oh hey! Its been a long time, and I know I shouldn't left you, without a dope post to step to. But sometimes, life (moving, job hunting, wallowing in your post-graduate, unemployed, broke and single pity) gets in the way. And when that happens, it usually takes something extra extra extra special to snap me out of my bummer fest. Luckily, my favorite Brooklyn born West Indian/Puerto Rican neo-soul wet dream has graced us with the first installment in an upcoming trilogy of pure unadulterated soul. Ladies and gentlemen, Maxwell is back.
It's been eight years since his last and third album, the lovely and shimmering Now (you know, the record with the super sensual and ethereal cover of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work") and the countertenor has been laying very low ever since. Then, sometime last year, some whispers about a new project began floating around and he started doing some promo gigs. But it wasn't until he showed up at last year's BET Awards and performed "Simply Beautiful" in honor of Al Green that people besides die hard fans truly remembered him and remembered why he was so fantastic. To put it bluntly, he killed it (the Youtube linked there is great because towards the end a woman filming it starts singing along super off key to his hit "Fortunate") and if you were wearing pants they probably were off. He had cut off his trademark locks, but nothing else had changed: same sexual charisma, same gorgeous voice and the same Marvin Gaye circa "Come Live With Me Angel" vibe. And at this year's BET Awards (which I will not discuss further FUCK YOU JOE JACKSON YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID) he performed the first single off of BLACKsummers'night, "Pretty Wings."
I have always thought if Maxwell's voice was anything other than his voice (uh, stay with me, this is going somewhere I promise) it would be the manifestation of laying in the world's most luxurious bed with the one person you wanted the most, just rolling around touching forever, while the temperature was a perfect balmy warmth, and your skin was bathed in shades of gold from a Sun that didn't burn. Hunger, anger, jealousy and insecurities didn't exist, and neither did clammy sweat. That's what I have always believed. Always (the song "Bad Habits" perhaps best demonstrates my hypothesis).
Well, the album dropped two days ago and for the past two days it's all I have been ingesting. A farewell to a love lost, the record is at once heartbreaking and uplifting, stimulating and numbing. Lush and vibrant horns (best illustrated on my second favorite cut "Cold"), soft guitar and pleading vocals ("Playing Possum") and the same haunting, beautiful yearning ("Fistful of Tears") that he always has exuded in his textured, emotive vocals ("Help Somebody") make this very worth the hiatus he put us through.
2010 and 2011 should give us the rest of his trilogy (and dare I call it too soon, trifecta?) but until then, don't treat this like a comeback. He never really left.