Maxwell released “Shame,” which he described as “a modern love song,” on Friday.
On his latest track, the veteran R&B singer croons about romance in the social media age — misunderstandings about Instagram comments and similar sources of angst for any plugged-in couple. “Social media has created an alternate world where people watch everything you do, including your failures; they even often feel a sense of joy in your pain,” he wrote in a statement. “This creates a barrier to real intimacy because we’re preoccupied with appearances, with measuring up to what society thinks we should be, how we should look, what we should have and what we should aspire to.”
Maxwell presented “Shame” as an antidote to all that. “The song is about removing that mask of expectation and letting go of the shame of being real and vulnerable,” he said. At one point he sings bluntly, “it’s a parallel universe, it’s not real.”
“Shame” was co-written and co-produced by Hod David, Maxwell’s longtime collaborator. But notably, it also features input from Travis Sayles, who has worked previously with DJ Khaled and Ariana Grande. Perhaps that’s why the sound is slightly more modern than usual for Maxwell — the drums have a different sort of snap to them.
“Shame” kicks off the campaign for Maxwell’s next album, Night, which the singer said will arrive in 2019. However, it’s best to view Maxwell’s potential release dates with a healthy dose of skepticism. He took eight years before releasing BLACKsummers’night in 2009, and then seven more before putting out blackSUMMERS’night in 2016. Speaking with Rolling Stone after that release, the singer suggested that the third and final installment of the trilogy could come out in February 2017; it did not materialize.
Still, he was excited by the thought that he would finally escape the burdens of a trilogy, calling the final album “the end of the saga.” “I’ll be free!” he joked, before adding, “I can have PURPLEwinterafternoon.”