Very good news for fans of indie soul artist Bilal. The Philadelphia native released A Love Surreal—his fourth studio album—on Tuesday. A Love Surreal is "highly recommended" by SoulTracks Music Editor L. Michael Gipson—who describes the artist as a "rare talent with a strong sense of music history."
Bilal has released a two-part video series that goes behind-the-scenes of making the album. The second part was released yesterday. Watch both videos, listen to the new track "West Side Girl" and more of Michael Gipson's excellent review AFTER THE JUMP ...
SoulTracks Music Editor and For Colored Boys contributor L. Michael Gipson applauds the new effort ... but describes it as somewhat "uneven" and "both rawer and muddier than anything previously released by" Bilal. Has Bilal been a victim of his own success?
The finicky public’s appetite for artistic stagnation is unyielding when something they like is placed on their all too picky plate. A high-class problem, to be sure, but one a singular artist like Bilal Sayeed Oliver has been experiencing since his 2001 debut.
Sonically, A Love Surreal is both rawer and muddier than anything previously released by Bilal. ... In keeping with the Black American Music (BAM) trend, the material is often jazz, funk, rock, hip hop, electronica and R&B all at once, with funk dominating the hot chicken grease feel of several “jam session” cuts and Bilal’s Rick James meets Prince vocal approach. As with most of Bilal’s catalog, you’ll have to listen closely for lyrical distinction given his penchant for sacrificing diction to groove and melody. Overall, the contemporary material lacks a timestamp, though Bilal owes serious thanks to the ‘70s funk and soul of the Isley Brothers' most rock-influenced years.
It's a very thorough critique. If you have a few minutes, read the full review at SoulTracks. It's definitely worth the read while you listen.