Review: Maxwell's BLACKSummer'snight

It was not all that long ago that a self-imposed eight-year hiatus by an R&B singer was tantamount to quitting the game. Labels wouldn’t have it; fans would forget.

Singer Maxwell’s retreat for most of the decade into “pedestrian life” doesn’t appear to have hurt his career. BLACKSummer’snight, his first release since 2001’s Now has generated plenty of buzz and reportedly will make a splash on the charts any day now.

Maxwell’s re-arrival happens at a precipitous time, amid a listless modern soul scene where hardly anyone can resist the Auto-Tune button. We’ll call BLACKSummer’snight a solid return, especially welcome considering contemporary R&B’s current state of affairs.

The 36-year-old Brooklyn-bred artist is a genuine singer in the classic mold of a Marvin Gaye. His stock-in-trade is smoldering restraint, but he can grasp for the rasp and turn up the passion when called for.