The enigmatic soul singer known simply as Bilal is back with his 3rd studio album and eOne/Purpose Music Group debut, A Love Surreal. Bilal has been a staple in soul music for well over a decade, and even though commercial success has escaped him, his impact and influence on music is highly apparent.
Bilal Sayeed Oliver is an interesting guy–some would say, eclectic. Others may say downright weird. No matter what you call him, there is no denying that he is perhaps one of the most respected artists of the past twenty years. Bilal could be considered the predecessor for progressive R&B artists such as Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, and Miguel. After returning to the music scene in 2010 with his second studio album Airtight’s Revenge, Bilal thankfully decided not to leave us yearning another 9 years for new music. A Love Surreal takes us back to the feeling we all had in 2000, the first time “Soul Sista” hit the airwaves.
Pushing the envelope of R&B somewhat like his Purpose Music label mate Anthony David, Bilal has never been one to stick to the normal box of what is considered R&B. Soulful as always, Bilal carries a certain edge to his music that a lot of artists are afraid to go to. On A Love Surreal, he carefully balances traditional R&B with the “Bilal effect.” Standouts like “Winning Hand” and “Right at The Core” prove that the direction he’s carrying R&B music is not an abandonment of the genre’s past, but an amalgam of the past, present, and future. Progressive cuts like “Ashtray” and “Longing and Waiting” build anticipation for his impending tour and showcase of new material. Perhaps the most moving song I’ve personally heard from Bilal is “Lost For Now.” The production is simple, yet direct. The lyrics are thought provoking and completely relatable for those looking for a new start after love. Overall, A Love Surreal is a great effort by the soul singer. He is vocally consistent and lyrically organic. This is album is a statement that soul music can survive and thrive in a marketplace that has seemingly cast meaningful music aside for mindless banter. Highly recommended.
– Nick Eden
Nick Eden is a singer/songwriter/R&B junkie based out of Atlanta, GA. He is a winner of the Steve Harvey New Star Project and has recently appeared on BET/Centric’s Apollo Live. His new album Soul|Reloaded will be available Spring 2013. Experience his love of R&B at www.RnBLova.com and follow him on Twitter @nickeden.