In September 1998, Maxwell took the stage at the Lady of Soul Awards — an offshoot of the Soul Train Awards that celebrated the achievements of female artists — to perform “Matrimony: Maybe You,” the sly, funky second single from his Embrya album.
Dressed in a straw hat and flowy white, the singer mostly performs effortlessly, sauntering around the stage and never missing a note. He spins and shimmies, and during the second half of the song, joins a single back-up dancer in an amusing sequence of movements that’s heavy on hip-thrusting. He proposes to the entire crowd — “y’all want to get married tonight?” — and later drops into a James Brown–esque split.
Unfortunately for Maxwell, none of this helped “Matrimony: Maybe You,” which failed to become a hit, and Embrya didn’t match the chart success of the singer’s debut. “It was a challenging record,” a Columbia executive told Vibe. But that was the way Maxwell wanted it to be. “I had to do what I wanted to do,” the singer said, “because if you ever do something a certain way because of what people expect, or want, then you’re a slave to it. And I can’t be that, especially with something I love so much.”
Despite the tepid reaction to Embrya in some quarters, it did go on to sell more than a million copies, earning a platinum certification in less than a year. And on Friday, a 20th anniversary edition of the album will be reissued on vinyl. The LP was carefully remastered by Maxwell and his longtime collaborator Stuart Matthewman; they also changed the track order on the record, moving Embrya‘s first song to the end of the album.