BLACKsummers'night

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BLACKsummers'night
Studio album by Maxwell
ReleasedJuly 7, 2009
Recorded2007–2009
Chung King Studios, Bowery Digital, Platinum Sound Recording Studios
(New York, New York)
GenreSoul, neo soul, R&B, funk, quiet storm
Length37:21
LabelColumbia
CK 89142
ProducerMUSZE (Maxwell), Hod David
Maxwell chronology
Now
(2001)
BLACKsummers'
night

(2009)
blackSUMMERS'
night

(2013)
Singles from BLACKsummers'night
  1. "Pretty Wings"
    Released: April 28, 2009
  2. "Bad Habits"
    Released: June 9, 2009
  3. "Cold"
    Released: June 2009
  4. "Fistful of Tears"
    Released: January 19, 2010
 
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BLACKsummers'night
Studio album by Maxwell
ReleasedJuly 7, 2009
Recorded2007–2009
Chung King Studios, Bowery Digital, Platinum Sound Recording Studios
(New York, New York)
GenreSoul, neo soul, R&B, funk, quiet storm
Length37:21
LabelColumbia
CK 89142
ProducerMUSZE (Maxwell), Hod David
Maxwell chronology
Now
(2001)
BLACKsummers'
night

(2009)
blackSUMMERS'
night

(2013)
Singles from BLACKsummers'night
  1. "Pretty Wings"
    Released: April 28, 2009
  2. "Bad Habits"
    Released: June 9, 2009
  3. "Cold"
    Released: June 2009
  4. "Fistful of Tears"
    Released: January 19, 2010

BLACKsummers'night is the fourth studio album by American recording artist Maxwell, released July 7, 2009 on Columbia Records. It is the follow-up to his third album Now (2001). Recording sessions for the album took place during 2007 to 2009 and production was handled entirely by Maxwell and Hod David.

The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 316,000 copies in its first week. It became Maxwell's fourth consecutive US platinum album and produced four singles that achieved Billboard chart success. Upon its release, the album received acclaim from most music critics and earned Maxwell two Grammy Awards at the 52nd Grammy Awards. It has sold over one million copies in the United States.

Background[edit]

Recording sessions for the album took place during 2007 to 2009 at Chung King Studios, Bowery Digital, and Platinum Sound Recording Studios in New York City.[1] The album was produced entirely by Maxwell and musician Hod David.[1] BLACKsummers'night is Maxwell's first album since his hiatus after his third album, Now (2001), and serves as the first part of his scheduled trilogy of albums.[2]

The music of BLACKsummers'night is rooted in general soul music, and it features a more straightforward musical structure than Maxwell's previous work such as Embrya (1998).[3] Maxwell's lyrics concern his falling in and out of love during his sabbatical period prior to the album's release.[4] In an interview with Pete Lewis of Blues & Soul, Maxwell stated "The inspiration was real life itself. You know, while I was taking time away from the industry, I came across a relationship that took me by surprise."[5]

Release and promotion[edit]

The album was released on July 7, 2009 in multiple formats: digital, physical CD only, physical CD/DVD (Deluxe Version), and vinyl. The deluxe version includes video, entitled "5DAYSofBLACK", which discusses the development of songs and also includes the music video for "Pretty Wings".

The album produced four singles. Its lead single "Pretty Wings" debuted at number one on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart,[6] ultimately spending 47 weeks on the chart.[7] It also spent 18 weeks and peaked at number 33 on the Hot 100 and at number 12 on its Radio Songs component chart.[8][9] The album's second single, "Bad Habits", peaked at number four on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, spending 46 weeks on the chart.[7] It peaked at number 71 on the Hot 100,[8] at number 38 on the Radio Songs chart,[9] and at number 16 on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart.[10] The third single "Cold" spent one week at number 62 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.[7] The album's fourth single "Fistful of Tears" spent 24 weeks on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, peaking at number 11.[7] It charted at number 94 on the Hot 100 and at number 63 on the Radio Songs chart.[8][9]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart in July 2009, with first-week sales of 316,000 copies,[11] serving as Maxwell's highest first-week sales.[12] It also entered at number one on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums,[13] and at number two on the Top Digital Albums.[14] In its second week on the Billboard 200, it fell to number two with an additional 103,000 copies sold.[15] In its third week, the album dropped to number three with 72,000 more copies sold.[16] In its fourth week, the album sold 55,000 more copies at number three on the chart.[17] By August 2009, BLACKsummers'night had sold 550,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[18] Charting at number seven on the Billboard 200, the album sold 43,000 copies in its fifth week.[19] It maintained its position at number seven in its sixth week, selling an additional 38,000 copies.[20] It spent 42 weeks on both the Billboard 200 and R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts.[21][22]

In Canada, the album debuted at number 25 on the Top 100 chart,[23] spending one week on the chart.[24] In the United Kingdom, BLACKsummers'night entered at number 66 on the UK Albums Chart, spending one week on the chart,[25] and at number 23 on the UK R&B Chart.[26] On January 19, 2010, the album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America,[27] following shipments in excess of one million copies in the United States.[28] It serves as his fourth consecutive platinum-selling album and has sold more than one million copies in the United States.[27][29]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic4.5/5 stars[30]
Chicago Tribune3.5/4 stars[4]
Entertainment WeeklyB[31]
Los Angeles Times4/4 stars[32]
Pitchfork Media7.8/10[33]
PopMatters9/10[34]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[35]
Slant Magazine3.5/5 stars[36]
Spin8/10[37]
The Village Voicefavorable[38]

BLACKsummers'night received universal acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 85, based on 15 reviews.[39] Allmusic editor Andy Kellman complimented its "dimensions and progress" from Maxwell's previous work.[30] Ken Capobianco of The Boston Globe commented that he sings "with remarkable grace and subtlety" and that "the songs are focused and often lovely and the execution is crisp".[2] Sputnikmusic's Tyler Munro called it "dynamically written and produced", commending Maxwell for his "understated, quiet confidence", "versatility as a vocalist", and "the timing, variation and execution of the instruments".[40] Chicago Tribune writer Greg Kot commented that it "evokes the complex late ‘70s albums of Marvin Gaye", and stated, "Maxwell explores his vulnerabilities and idiosyncrasies, while toughening up his sound."[4] Mojo gave the album four out of five stars and dubbed it his best since Urban Hang Suite.[41] Rolling Stone writer Jody Rosen called it "an R&B album about love, not just sex, for grown-ups who know the difference".[35] Slant Magazine's Eric Henderson complimented the album's "brisk and intangible 37 minutes of grown-folks grooves" and Maxwell's "musical commitment to feminizing masculinity, or vice versa".[36]

The Village Voice's Clover Hope perceived more concise and "existentialist" songwriting by Maxwell than on his previous work, stating "The constant with Maxwell is that he tackles the topic of love with a philosopher's eye ... It's easy to fancy the mood of his music over its poeticism, but with BLACK, he strikes a pleasant balance that's neither boring nor overwhelming".[38] Pitchfork Media's David Drake found Maxwell to be "structurally ambitious, with the kind of consistent unpredictability and subversiveness of the song form, embracing the unexpected ... its best songs balancing compositional excellence, development, and tension, with carefully designed moods that reflect or complement each work's lyrical focus".[33] Drake viewed that it "trades the physical sensuality of his earlier work for a deep emotional resonance" and praised Maxwell's "focus and attention to detail".[33] Los Angeles Times writer Ann Powers found its songs structure complimentary to the album's themes, stating "the music replicates the experience of an intimate connection, its ebbs and surges, its sometimes frustrating turns".[32]

In a mixed review, The Observer's Paul Mardles criticized Maxwell's "fondness for cliche".[42] Allison Stewart of The Washington Post called the album "cerebral but impersonal [...] never quite breaks free of its self-imposed restraints".[43] Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt viewed that "his sentiments rarely transcend the boudoir — and listeners lulled by the album's unvaryingly sleek, high-gloss beats may just drift off to dreamland before they get there".[31] Chicago Sun-Times writer Jim DeRogatis commented that several songs "never rise above the level of pleasant background music", but called it "gorgeously recorded, tastefully arranged and beautifully played".[44]

Accolades[edit]

BLACKsummers'night was one of 2009's most critically acclaimed music releases, being ranked near or at the top of several critics' year-end lists of best albums.[45] The album was ranked number 14 on The Village Voice's 2009 Pazz & Jop critics' poll.[46] In naming it the best album of the year, Jon Pareles of The New York Times discussed its musical significance to R&B and soul music genres, writing:

Maxwell’s fourth album defies current R&B on all fronts. It’s gentle and imploring, not cocky. It’s elliptical, not blatant. It’s hand played, by a band complete with a horn section, rather than programmed. It’s so improvisatory that melodies change from verse to verse. And even when the rhythm gets funky, the sad, lovely songs — about a crumbling romance — are suffused with a yearning that’s almost too intimate. It’s soul music reinventing itself, moment to moment.[47]

—Jon Pareles

Associated Press named it the seventh best album of 2009.[48] Billboard ranked it number nine on its list of the top ten albums of the year.[49] The Boston Globe's Sarah Rodman named it the fifth best album of the year,[50] and The Washington Post's Chris Richards ranked it number one on his list of 2009's best albums.[51] Rhapsody (online music service) called it the 9th best album of 2009.[52] The album also earned Maxwell two Grammy Awards, for Best R&B Album and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance ("Pretty Wings"), at the 52nd Grammy Awards in 2010.[53]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by MUSZE and Hod David. 

No.TitleLength
1."Badhabits"  5:52
2."Cold"  4:02
3."Prettywings"  5:10
4."Helpsomebody"  4:01
5."Stoptheworld"  3:56
6."Loveyou"  3:35
7."Fistfuloftears"  3:39
8."Playingpossum"  4:22
9."Phoenixrise"  2:41

Personnel[edit]

Credits for BLACKsummers'night adapted from liner notes.[1]

Players
  • Drums: Chris Dave
  • Bass: Derrick Hodge
  • Organ: Shedrick Mitchell
  • Keyboards: Federico Pena
  • Trumpet: Keyon Harrold
  • Saxophone: Kenneth Whalum III
  • Trombone: Saunders Sermons II
  • Additional Instrumentation: Hod David and Musze (Maxwell)
#TitleNotes
BLACKsummers'night

Produced by Hod David and Musze (Maxwell).
Written by Musze and Hod David.
Recorded in NYC at Chung King Studios, Bowery Digital, and Platinum Sound Recording Studios.
Engineered by Jesse Gladstone, Hod David, Musze, Glen Marchese, and Mike Pela.
Assistant Engineers: Dave Clauss, Anthony Palazzole, Michael Makowski, and Benedetto Caccavale
Mastered by Tom Coyne at Sterling Sound (NYC).
Photography: Eric Johnson
Design: Julian Peploe Studio
Barbers: Curtis Smith and Paul Mouton
Styling: Nicola Formichetti and Nicolas Klam

1"Bad Habits"

Mixed by Glen Marchese at Platinum Sound Recording Studios

2"Cold"

Mixed by Mike Pela at Chung King Recording Studios and Glen Marchese at Platinum Sound Recording Studios

3"Pretty Wings"

Mixed by Mike Pela at Chung King Recording Studios

4"Help Somebody"

Mixed by Glen Marchese at Platinum Sound Recording Studios

5"Stop the World"

Mixed by Mike Pela at Chung King Recording Studios

6"Love You"

Mixed by Glen Marchese at Platinum Sound Recording Studios

7"Fistful of Tears"

Mixed by Mike Pela at Chung King Recording Studios

8"Playing Possum"

Mixed by Glen Marchese at Platinum Sound Recording Studios

9"Phoenix Rise"

Mixed by Glen Marchese at Platinum Sound Recording Studios

Charts[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2010)Peak
position
Canadian Albums Chart[24]25
Dutch Albums Chart[25]31
French Albums Chart[25]147
UK Albums Chart[25]66
UK R&B Chart[26]23
US Billboard 200[21]1
US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[22]1
Preceded by
Now! 31 by Various artists
Billboard 200 number-one album
July 25, 2009
Succeeded by
Leave This Town by Daughtry

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Per liner notes from BLACKsummers'night album
  2. ^ a b Capobianco, Ken. Review: BLACKsummers'night. The Boston Globe. Retrieved on 2009-07-19.
  3. ^ Nero, Mark Edward. Review: BLACKsummers'night. About.com. Retrieved on 2009-09-13.
  4. ^ a b c Kot, Greg. Review: BLACKsummers'night. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved on 2009-07-19.
  5. ^ Lewis, Pete. Why So Sad Maxwell. Blues & Soul. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  6. ^ R&B/Hip-Hop Songs - Week of September 05, 2009. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  7. ^ a b c d Chart History - Maxwell: R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  8. ^ a b c Chart History - Maxwell: Hot 100. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  9. ^ a b c Chart History - Maxwell: Radio Songs. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  10. ^ Chart History - Maxwell: Dance/Club Play Songs. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  11. ^ Sisario, Ben. ‘Blacksummers’night’ Takes Maxwell to No. 1. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-09-13.
  12. ^ Caulfield, Keith. Maxwell Tops Billboard 200. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  13. ^ R&B/Hip-Hop Albums - Week of July 25, 2009. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  14. ^ Digital Albums - Week of July 25, 2009. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  15. ^ Caulfield, Keith. Daughtry Returns, Debuts At No. 1 On Billboard 200. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  16. ^ Herrera, Monica. Demi Lovato Debuts At No. 1 On Billboard 200, But Michael Jackson Still Reigns. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  17. ^ Herrera, Monica. Fabolous Tops Billboard 200; Jackson's 'Ones' Now 2009's Second-Best Seller. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  18. ^ Herrera, Monica. Maxwell Adds New Dates To 'BLACKsummers'night' Tour. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  19. ^ Herrera, Monica. Sugarland No. 1 On Billboard 200; Jackson Still Week's Top-Seller. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  20. ^ Herrera, Monica. George Strait Dethrones Michael Jackson, Tops Billboard 200. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  21. ^ a b Chart History - Maxwell: Billboard 200. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  22. ^ a b Chart History - Maxwell: R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  23. ^ Canadian Albums - Week of July 25, 2009. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  24. ^ a b Chart History - Maxwell: Canadian Albums. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  25. ^ a b c d Album Performance: BLACKsummers'night. acharts. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  26. ^ a b Top 40 R&B Albums Archive - 7th November 2009. The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  27. ^ a b Gold & Platinum - Searchable Database: Artist: Maxwell. Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved on 2010-03-21.
  28. ^ Columnist. Maxwell Goes Platinum With Blacksummers'night. Vibe. Retrieved on 2010-03-21.
  29. ^ Moody, Nekesa Mumbi. Success is getting in the way of new Maxwell album. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11.
  30. ^ a b Kellman, Andy Review: BLACKsummers'night. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-07-19.
  31. ^ a b Greenblatt, Leah. Review: BLACKsummers'night. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2009-07-19.
  32. ^ a b Powers, Ann. Review: BLACKsummers'night. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2009-07-19.
  33. ^ a b c Drake, David. Review: BLACKsummers'night. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2009-07-19.
  34. ^ Wikane, Christian John. Review: BLACKsummers'night. PopMatters. Retrieved on 2009-07-22.
  35. ^ a b Rosen, Jody. Review: BLACKsummers'night. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2009-08-09.
  36. ^ a b Henderson, Eric. Review: BLACKsummers'night. Slant Magazine. Retrieved on 2010-02-20.
  37. ^ Wood, Mikael. "Review: BLACKsummers'night". Spin: 90. August 2009.
  38. ^ a b Hope, Clover. Review: BLACKsummers'night. The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2009-07-19.
  39. ^ BLACKsummers'night Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2011-03-15.
  40. ^ Munro, Tyler. Review: BLACKsummers'night. Sputnikmusic. Retrieved on 2009-09-13.
  41. ^ Columnist. "Review: BLACKsummers'night". Mojo: 93. September 2009.
  42. ^ Mardles, Paul. Review: BLACKsummers'night. The Observer. Retrieved on 2010-05-03.
  43. ^ Stewart, Allison. Review: BLACKsummers'night. The Washington Post. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.
  44. ^ DeRogatis, Jim. Review: BLACKsummers'night. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on 2010-05-03.
  45. ^ Best Albums of 2009. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2010-05-03.
  46. ^ Staff. New York Pazz and Jop Albums. The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2010-05-03.
  47. ^ Pareles, Jon. 2009 in Pop - Reggae and Rock Operas, Intimacies and Anthems. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2010-05-03.
  48. ^ Moody, Nekesa Mumbi. The AP Ranks Top 10 Albums of the Year. Associated Press. Retrieved on 2009-12-27.
  49. ^ Staff. Billboard Critics' Top 10 Albums of 2009. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-03.
  50. ^ Rodman, Sarah. Sarah Rodman's Top Albums of 2009. The Boston Globe. Retrieved on 2010-05-03.
  51. ^ Richards, Chris. The Best and Worst of 2009. The Washington Post. Retrieved on 2009-12-27.
  52. ^ The 25 Best Albums of 2009 Referenced July 31, 2010
  53. ^ Bhansali, Akshay. Maxwell Calls Grammy Wins A 'Blessing'. MTV. Retrieved on 2010-05-02.

External links[edit]