“All I see is just / Everything is lust,” Maxwell croons on “Lake by the Ocean,” his seductive first single from the upcoming LP, blackSUMMERS’night. The album, out July 1st via Columbia Records, is the second installment in a musical trilogy, following 2009’s BLACKsummers’night.
“Ocean” finds the neo-soul veteran promising a lover, “We’ll be one, like drops in slow motion” over hypnotic piano and a chopped-up drum groove. He explores the full range of his voice through layered harmonies, slipping into a sweet falsetto on the bridge.
blackSUMMERS’night – which arrives two decades after Maxwell’s acclaimed debut LP, Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite – was recorded in New York over the past several years. “I’m working with all of the same people on the new album,” he said in a statement. “It’s always been a family type of thing, and I think that that’s what, maybe, has made it special. It feels, to me, even better than what we did 20 years ago.”
Maxwell will begin a 25-date summer tour on June 18th; the trek will include a headlining slot at the Essence Festival in early July. The full list of dates will be announced on April 11th at his website.
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The singer spoke to Rolling Stone about his new album in 2014, teasing the trilogy’s title structure as he prepped to road-test new material. “You know, the best way to say it without giving too much away is that you’ll find the titles,” he said. “There’s a flipside to the titles in the first and the second. A run-on sentence, maybe? If there was ‘Pretty Wings’ then there’d be something else, you know what I mean? But it would tie in somehow.
“Sonically, it’s a lot more hi-fi,” he continued. “I wouldn’t say electronic because it’s still pretty soulful and we have strings and we have all the live instruments going on, but it’s just a little bit more trippier than the first album. Because the first part was BLACK, and I associate that with soul. I really wanted it to be really traditional. Obviously the way it ended up being, it’s just a classic, sonic band sound. This one has the same elements, but there’s something a little bit more… I would say cyborg-ish about it.”