A truly glorious happening occurred – the return of one of neo-soul’s greatest – Maxwell. After an eight-year hiatus upon his last return (2001’s Now and 2009 comeback BLACKsummers’night), R&B lovers have had to wait another seven years for the now 42-year old (nearly 43) to reclaim his perch. Thankfully, judging by “Lake By The Ocean,” Maxwell returns once more in top-notch form. Gotta stop making us wait seven years though bro!
“Lake By The Ocean” is the promo singer for Maxwell’s second installment of a trilogy of albums. So essentially this is the SUMMERS’ portion whereas BLACK was the first and if it materializes, NIGHT will be the final piece. Following up a juggernaut like “Pretty Wings” isn’t easy, particularly when the song earned the rare Grammy nomination for Song of the Year (doesn’t happen much for R&B anymore peeps). But, Maxwell ends up sounding exceptional as if he hasn’t missed a beat – rather a note – in seven years.
Will “Lake By The Ocean” go down as an all-time great song? Of course not – those are rare and have to be flawless to be transcendent. This is, however, a well-written song where Maxwell’s vocal tone is pure, sexy, and exemplifies what makes R&B special. Maybe even more important is the fact that “Lake By The Ocean” keeps neo-soul and adult contemporary R&B alive and well, not to mention R&B itself. It continues a string of superb traditional R&B songs/albums in 2016 that show that artists aren’t afraid to hearken back to the glory days of the genre.
So, what’s the verdict here? “Lake By The Ocean” is terrific. Can’t wait for BlackSUMMERS’night!
Maxwell • “Lake By the Ocean” (BlackSUMMERS’night) • Columbia • Release Date: 4/2016