After an eight-year absence, neo-soul pioneer Maxwell is back - and, boy, is it good. The first album in a planned trilogy, BLACKsummers'-night marks a subtle evolution in his sound. He's not doing anything radically different, but his maturity and years of experience writing heartfelt ballads set him apart from contemporary soul singers who come off as cheesy or crude.
In loungey Bad Habits, synth-imbued Phoenix Rise and funky Cold, he draws from all manner of bedroom-ready genres and amalgamates them into his own personal sound. The album teeters on adult contemporary but never lets go of Maxwell's characteristic playful glint. Anyone remotely interested in his sound should pick this up.
Top track: Cold