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A Love Surreal

Bilal

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Album Review

After Airtight's Revenge was issued in 2010, Bilal picked up a Grammy nomination for that album's "Little One" and continued to be one of the most valuable guest vocalists. He enhanced the Roots' Grammy-nominated Undun and Robert Glasper Experiment's Grammy-winning Black Radio, the latter of which includes brilliant work on a version of David Bowie's "Letter to Hermione." For his third official release, Bilal entered the studio with the intent to record an EP, but exited with an album — one that possibly tops his previous release and has a very different character. Where Airtight's Revenge was all frayed nerves, sonically chunky, and dense, A Love Surreal is kicked back — lighter, slower, and steamier, more about flirting and lusting than personal and societal turmoil. Backed by much of the Airtight crew, Bilal produces all but four of the 14 cuts. That includes a deceptively wild 25-minute stretch flows from the knotted but playful "Back to Love," to the sneakily hooky "Winning Hand," to the spaced-out "Right at the Core," a deadly duet with King's Paris Strother in which resistance is futile ("You got me at the core"; "You tried to hate me, but your heart is still in it"). The album's latter half is just as remarkable. "Astray" is raw, bluesy soul, its longing tangible from the first lines: "Feelin' chills in the summertime, hot and cold/Something happens to the weather when you're gone." On "Butterfly," he reconnects with Glasper for a sparse ballad — incorporating delicate, otherworldly Moog accents from Masayuki Hirano — that should produce all-weather chills. It deserves to circulate as much Herbie Hancock's similarly lissome composition of the same title. As a producer and songwriter, Bilal has stepped up. As a vocalist, he remains supernaturally skilled and creative — swooping, diving, wailing, and sighing, all with complete command.

Customer Reviews

Divine Liberty

This album is straight bananas. Each and EVERY record...As I was previewing, when I got to "Slipping Away" I was transported out of my body and brought somewhere I have never imagined going. I feel it in the most vibratory part of my solar plexus; I couldn't and still can not shake that record. I am proudly a supporter of Bilal and what he is doing with Sound. I am MOST excited about this album and growing with what he has contributed to our world. This is Divine Liberty!

Ahead of his time

Bilal will forever be a pioneer and innovator who was never afraid to make the type of music he wanted. He's might not sell the most records but he's a peoples champion...I will always be a huge fan of Bilal.

Solid Album

Love, love, LOVE this album! It is classic Bilal mixed with a futuristic sound. Rarely do I buy complete albums anymore because you usually end up with a couple of really good songs surrounded by fluff. Not the case with "A Love Surreal"! This is definitely a well put together project! Kudos

Biography

Born: August 23, 1979 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

If there was one R&B artist for whom the neo-soul categorization seemed limiting, it was Philadelphia native Bilal. None of his recordings resembled the sycophantic worship of soul artists who thrived in the '60 and '70s, and it wasn't just because his voice — classically trained, capable of singing opera in seven languages — was so unique. While some inspirations were detectable, his recordings were wholly modern and became increasingly creative. His individuality led to being dropped...
Full Bio
A Love Surreal, Bilal
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