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Maxwell’s Black Summers’Night is what you should pop in the player on a rainy night, when it’s all cold and you’re alone with your girl. This offering, his first album in nine years, harks back to the days when he was compared to the late, great Marvin Gaye.

He’s in full swing here from the get-go, opening the album with “Bad Habits”, his falsetto instantly heightening the sexy mood. “Cold” and “Pretty Wings”, replete with ‘70s-sounding trumpet play and extra ethnic percussions, best represent the slow and smooth neo-soul ride that has endeared Maxwell to his throng of ladyfans.

“Help Somebody”, meanwhile, is more cheery and it’s probably the closest song you can say that’s layered with modern RnB influence. The upbeat “Love You” then brings the listener to what sounds like the second half of this nine-song set before mellowing again in “Fistful of Tears” and “Playing Possum.” The instrumental track, “Phoenix Rise”, ends the record on modern note. We wouldn’t be surprised if a DJ remixes this to fit the club.

Maxwell captures love’s ebbs and flows as only he can with Black Summer’s Night. The girl you’re alone with now will be pleased. - Gelo Gonzales

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