Maxwell is as much a connoisseur of R&B as he is a performer of it, so it makes sense that he would choose as his partner for Now Stuart Matthewman. Matthewman has been Sade’s guitarist and co-writer since 1982, and through his years in that position he has inherited some of the great secrets of modern R&B. Those secrets bloom on Now, which merges Maxwell’s deep connection to vintage American soul with Matthewman’s taut, minimalistic touch. Thankfully, the album is more than just a Sade record with Maxwell vocals. It’s deeper, funkier and more masculine than any of Sade’s albums, but the imprint of Matthewman is unmistakable. The performances are more restrained than they had been on Maxwell’s previous album, Embrya, a more free-flowing experimental affair. All great soul masters — from Al Green to Michael Jackson — found transcendence in restraint, and in “Silently,” “Noone,” “Changed” and “Lifetime” Maxwell finds the same. The only minor quibble is that the album should have closed on “This Woman’s Work,” a gorgeous, near-religious cover of Kate Bush’s 1989 single.