Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.


With Alicia Keys. Friday, October 5, at Music Hall.

  • Maxwell
Three years ago, Maxwell was the most pretentious soul singer in America. That's when his second album, Embrya, a mannered and complicated work filled with artsy titles and a cluttered birth-to-death theme, was released. It carried the promise of Maxwell's 1996 debut, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite, to its most extreme point and offered upscale, modern R&B for an audience rooted in old-school musicality and values. Somewhere between the neo-soul fuse he lit on Suite and Embrya's conception, Maxwell's ambitions got the best of him, and he became an annoying auteur. With Now, his latest album, he's more restrained. He's musically ambitious, this time. There's a banjo running through "For Lovers Only," and Shania Twain's steel guitarist is featured on "Was My Girl" -- the subtle proclamations befit the songs. The funk is often slow and slinky, and even the booty-shaking numbers are relatively relaxed. Maxwell has taken the sentiment of Now's first single, "Get to Know Ya," to heart: He takes time to build these tunes. The affected concept of Embrya (and, to an extent, Suite) is barely perceptible on Now. In a way, this concludes Maxwell's time trilogy (where Suite represented the past and Embrya the future) on its most graceful note. This is sexy music, and Maxwell, moving his soaring falsetto atop the equally towering arrangements, makes it all seem smarter and more sophisticated than the average R&B loverman talk.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Speaking of Previews

Latest in Livewire

More by Michael Gallucci

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 23, 2020

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Open Turntable Tuesday @ The Winchester

    • Tuesdays