The internet has not been kind to Bilal. The neo-soul singer suffered a jarring blow to artistic pride when his second album, “Love for Sale,” leaked before the release date, causing Interscope Records to shelve it indefinitely. One would think that such tragedy would discourage an artist, but it only made Bilal strive to create better music. Finally, after four years out of the spotlight, Bilal returns with renewed vigor and a sound that boggles the mind and warms the soul.
On every track, Bilal sings as if he just arose from the ashes of his past problems and is ready to soar through the vast musical sky. Even with a song like “Restart,” where Bilal talks about making a failing relationship work, he sings with such energy that you can identify with his pain through the lyrics, “You know I lost my whole direction / but it’s you that I want.” Continuing the trend of love, Bilal begins to question what love truly is on the upbeat “All Matter.” Just as he has the listener pondering the age-old question, he provides a simple and effective answer: “Cool on the outside, hot in the middle.”
Bilal may be a soul singer, but the album’s production is genre-defying. Each track is a sonic symphony that displays a sense of controlled chaos, the kind accompanied with powerful lyrics and even stronger messages. A traditional neo-soul song such as “Flying,” which narrates the life of a drug dealer’s daughter, counteracts the franticness that echoes in a song like “Levels.” Despite the sharp differences, the synergy between both songs creates a smooth transition from a heavy point of the album to a lighter one.
With motivation from a shelved album and something to prove, Bilal has created a 48-minute-long hurricane that roars through your ears. The dynamic sound and personal feeling that embodies “Airtight’s Revenge” makes for a wonderful listen and high anticipation for the next time we see Bilal’s name.
Rating: DIG IT!