Much like Sade’s Lovers Rock, Maxwell’s third studio effort, Now, faithfully delivers more of the same. The album’s 11 tracks, from the wispy acoustic “Symptom Unknown” to “Lifetime,” drip and blur into each other, creating, if nothing else, a cohesive fluffy pillow to rest your weary head at the end of a hard day’s work. But unlike Lovers Rock, Now fails to differentiate the homogeneity; Maxwell never attempts anything fresh (not that his fans want him to). Whether it’s Marvin Gaye or Prince, the oozy crooner continues to channel his influences without shame, but his songwriting lacks his predecessors’ ambition. (Even the lyrics in songs like “For Lovers Only” redundantly underachieve: “This is only/For lovers only/Lovers only.”) He subjects us to a piercing, albeit viral, falsetto on a more-than-curious cover of Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work,” and only ups the pace to toe-tapping territory with two tracks, including the guitar-infused “Temporary Nite,” which recall the least memorable tracks from any given Lenny Kravitz album.
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