Personnel includes: Maxwell (vocals); Stuart Matthewman, Wah Wah Watson, Hod David (guitar); Bruce Bouton (pedal steel guitar); Andre Roberson (saxophone); Steve Bernstein (trumpet); Clark Gayton (trombone); Etienne Stadwijk, Federica Pena (keyboards); Michael Bland (drums); Paul J. Falcone (programming).
Engineers include: Paul J. Falcone, Mike Pela, Larry Phillabaum.
"Lifetime" was nominated for the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
Rebounding from the slight sophomore lag generated by 1998's EMBRYA, Maxwell's follow-up NOW abandons the neo-soul man's usual M.O. of using a conceptual arc of songs, and instead focuses on individual cuts. Romance remains the main ingredient found in this Brooklyn native's banquet of song, and although he stands firmly in the neo-soul camp of D'Angelo and Erykah, his use of various stylistic nuances once again stamps him as an original item. Twangy country-flavored licks and subtle DJ scratches pop up throughout the lament "Was My Girl," and scratchy rock guitar riffs are sparingly used over the heavy groove of "Temporary Nite." At the centerpiece is a studio version of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work," a staple of Maxwell's concerts previously showcased on the live 1997 EP UNPLUGGED. Delivered with a crystalline falsetto, delicate strings and subtle pedal steel, it's a daring move worthy of Prince-ly accolades.
Elsewhere, Maxwell easily moves between sly funk (a percolating "Get To Know Ya") and sleek, between-the-sheets posturing (the Isley Brothers-flavored "Changed"). Other highlights include the goosebump-inducing slow jam "For Lovers Only," chugging come-on "Lifetime," and irresistible end-of-album funk workout "Now/At The Party." NOW is a musical outing worthy of silk sheets and champagne.
Rolling Stone (8/30/01, p.124) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...Continues to mine past gold, integrating rock and jazz elements, and works Maxwell's beautifully supple vocals around old-school styles..."
Q (10/01, p.127) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...A focussed and funky set..."
Mixmag (10/01, p.177) - 5 out of 5 - "...Every track sounds like it has been meticulously crafted to perfection....this album is utterly flawless..."