Arguably the standout track on Alicia’s Girl on Fire album, and one of the best R&B singles within the last year (original review here). The duo’s vocals play off each other increasingly well, and there’s more of a duet vibe than this being a simple feature, a factor which extends to the video. On watching this, you realise how rare it is for both acts in a collaborative piece to interact or both play lead roles, with the guest usually relegated to a sub-plot or unrelated scene; this one shares the spotlight, and with considerable style.
Set in a vintage New Orleans (the home of original R&B), it’s a sultry clip detailing the progressive relationship between the two, seemingly an instant attraction that blossoms. Their relationship growth mirrors the increasingly harmony and synergy of their vocals on the track, whilst the old-school styling of the whole video is superb, with the hazy tinting and great outfitting being a real throwback treat. Most importantly is the lack of physical contact between the two: it might go unnoticed, but both manage to evoke powerful feelings of attraction and massive levels of sex appeal without ever actually physically interacting much. It’s an admirable facet of the video, and another that harks back to earlier times; their only sole meaningful contact comes towards the end, which makes for a nice physical and metaphorical conclusion. It’s a smart, well-thought out video that serves to somehow enhance an already-fantastic song.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL. I repeat, this is not a drill. It’s been a long, long time coming but we’re finally treated to some brand new Maxwell from that upcoming Summers’ album (I finally believe that it is ‘upcoming’).
It’s only a rough cut and comes in at a mere 73 seconds, but there’s more than enough here to satisfy the starved Maxwell fans and offer some insight into the sound of the album. Those beautifully buttery vocals lace a minimal production, comprised of soft synths alongside more urgent synths, and a delicate percussion that gently holds everything together. The mix is very rough so it’s difficult to pick up too much more, but the two combine wonderfully throughout for a sultry, warming track that cuts off far too prematurely, and will leave you gasping for more. He’s the master of neo-soul, and I desperately await more of this.
I don’t think we’ve ever posted a ‘partial tracklist’, but given that this album is years overdue and we’ve had absolutely no information on it, any sliver of news is met with a full-on welcoming party in my household.
Click the image for a slightly larger look at the list, which offers absolutely nothing in terms of the musical direction, but nonetheless lets us fans know that something will be released eventually. He’s previously suggested this album may have a more diverse soundscape, with rumoured gospel and alternative influences, though either way I’m sure that the characteristically excellent Maxwell will ensure his high level of consistency runs through whatever sound style he chooses. If you’re still pining for more Maxwell and have exhausted his back catalogue, be sure to check out his feature on Alicia Keys’ newest album, and the rest of that album is worth a go too.
Wow. This is a collaboration that promises so much, with two of the most impressive voices in the business coming together for the very first time. Alright, I’m kidding nobody-the mere thought of new Maxwell music alone has me giddy, even if its just a feature.
This could have gone one of two ways: huge, powerful track or smoothed-out soul vibes. No prizes for guessing which one I wanted, and it’s exactly what we got. Mellow guitar licks and soft claps comprise the majority of the production, giving this one a sultry bedroom vibe that’ll make for a lovely addition to various ‘special’ playlists, whilst also being an unobtrusive backdrop for the vocalists to do their work. Alicia’s vocals are subtle and laidback throughout to complement her loved up lyricism nicely, though even with my fan bias aside, Maxwell the highlight on this. His contribution comes via his beautifully-consistent falsetto delivery, contrasting with Alicia’s verse by opting for a slightly more passionate delivery that works excellently, whilst his lyricism stays on point throughout. Thoroughly enjoying this, and I hope Maxwell’s next album is near.
Christmas songs usually annoy me. However, anything coming out of Maxwell’s vocal box will never annoy me, and hence this is a very, very good listen.
He applies those buttery, flawless vocals to two Christmas classics here at a recent live show (in front of the Obama family), and makes them about as listenable as they ever have been and ever will be. It’s probably easier to appreciate as he’s been fairly quiet as of late, and there have been no real signs that the 2nd part of the Blacksummers’night trilogy is coming soon. So for now, enjoy this great performance!
Wow. After re-visiting his work on the recent Gorillaz track, I went on a little scouting mission to learn about UK singer Daley, and it looks like I’ve uncovered something/someone rather special.
Maxwell’s 2009 Blacksummers’night is a modern-day masterpiece (review here), and Daley takes on one of the prominent works from that album with incredible quality, and delivers a rendition which is every bit as good as the original. Being a huge Maxwell fan that’s tough for me to say, but there is no doubting the talent Daley possesses: this particular track is as tough a test as you’ll find when it comes to vocal versatility, but he manages to both smooth and upscale his vocals comfortably throughout, delivering a relaxed yet powerful performance. I can’t praise this enough.
Smoothed out soul vibes from the best in the game. As you’d expect, I’m liking this video a lot. Liked the track anyway, and it’s one of the slower/more deliberately-paced tracks from the album. The video’s got a nice old-school feel about it, and it’s definitely a welcome change to the comparatively overcrowded videos we normally get.
In what can best be described as a fitting coincidence given the retrospective nature of this particular post, 2009 was very much a year of hindsight. I rediscovered artists I’d neglected, I discovered artists who I’d simply ignored, but most importantly I began to see the fundamental flaw in my appreciation of music (especially hip-hop) and how I probably got it wrong.
Don’t make the same mistakes. Click on to grab some unmissable tracks, and of course my discoveries from the year gone by. I’ve thrown in a couple of lists too, as I know some of you can’t deal with excess reading.
a) I literally had no idea these two are like best friends.
b) Consequentially, I did NOT expect this.
c) This is utterly awesome. The original was brilliant, but a Nas verse too? Wow.
d) If you don’t get this track, you probably need to see a doctor for that massive stupidity you’ve got growing on your face.
October definitely renewed my faith in music, after a September which was heavily reliant on 3 major album releases. Click below for my musings on the month, and as per last month, my favourite albums/songs from the last 31 days.
I’ve never seen Maxwell perform live, but everybody’s heard the stereotype: Most women will throw some piece of their underwear on stage. Watch a live performance of Bad Habits here, (and read the album review/download Bad Habits here) and you can see why. He’s a great live performer, both in terms of his charisma and his vocals. Have you ever heard women scream like that for a performer before?! Good on you Maxwell!
By now, I expect that you all know how highly I rate Maxwell’s Blacksummers’night. If you haven’t checked the review out, click here to do so. I’d recommend you did, as you can pick up a track from the album, Bad Habits, which just so happened to have a video released for it today. The goods are after the click. → Continue Reading