The 20th anniversary digital reissue of Maxwell’s 2001 album, Now, is out today, August 13th, remastered in 24-bit Hi-res. It is accompanied by the release of two digital EP's, Get To Know Ya, which is being released on DSPs for the first time, and Lifetime, which features tracks previously unavailable for streaming.
Click here to listen: https://maxwell.lnk.to/NowRemasteredPR
Read critic and author Nelson George’s essay on the lasting influence of Nowbelow.
“Been through a storm, with no use in hopin’/that you would come rescue me/somehow your love set me free”
- From “Lifetime”
On August 14, 2001, less than a month before the 9/11 attack that pulled down the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan, Maxwell’s third album, Now, was released by Columbia. Like many cultural products released around that tragic date in world history, its reception was impacted by its proximity to that event. In retrospect it shouldn’t be surprising that Now would become Maxwell’s first number one album, selling over one million copies. In the difficult fall and winter of ‘01, when all of America was in mourning, and when the pain was particularly acute in his hometown of New York, Maxwell’s songs smoothed rattled nerves, calmed raging anxiety, and made love still seem a possibility in a time of hate. Unlike the preceding albums Urban Hang Suite and Embrya, this LP’s eleven tracks were not united by a quasi-narrative concept, but by the more general idea of intimacy. These are songs that feel like a caress, that deal with the struggle to see the world through the eyes of your lover and, in so doing, see yourself more fully. When you listen to “Changed’ or “Lifetime'' or “Symptom Unknown,” you hear the voice of a singer working through what it means to be close to someone, what of your old self has to be left behind in the process, and what is gained by being open and vulnerable. Unlike the prevailing hip hop ethos of male swagger and dominance, Maxwell is arguing for an alternative masculine model that tries to see all sides of love, and seeks partnership and not control. Taking on Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work,” a song by a white British woman singer, and transforming it into a black American man’s signature performance, makes his interpretation as brave as it is bold. Produced by MUSZE (aka Maxwell), with songs co-written with collaborators Hod David and Stuart Matthewman, Now is a brilliant showcase for the singer’s prowess. Five years after his recording debut, there’s nuance, passion, and more than a little angst in his voice as he croons, soars, and moans on “NoOne,” “For Lovers Only,” and “W/As My Girl.” Today, knee deep in the age of auto tune, often the true authority of the human voice gets lost in the mix. However, this album, released near the turn of the century, is a celebration of the lost art of singing your ass off. It’s not about powering through a song, but understanding how to suggest pain, wonderment, and devotion just by sustaining a note a bit longer. This is modern soul music sans the shouting, yet full of emotion. Now opens with the danceable “Get to Know Ya,” a song whose lyrics express the desire to truly “see” his partner, and ends with the funky “Now/At The Party,” but this is a primarily a quiet, introspective collection and that’s its great strength. It’s why Now meant so much when first released and continues to resonate twenty years later. - Nelson George
Now Track List:
Get to Know Ya EP Track List:
Lifetime EP Track List: