Bilal Releases “In Another Life”
Since 2001, Bilal has been delivering music that leaves a larger imprint than was previously established on the soul genre. With In Another Life, that tradition continues. He’s normally pushed the envelope sonically, but with this album, he relied on the warmth and grit of analogue sound. Save one track, the album sounds as if it was recorded in a single session. There is a consistent sound throughout the album with a bit of a twist here and there. All in all, In Another Life feels like one of the live shows he’s become famous for.
It opens with the familiar vamp of Adrian Younge’s 2011 instrumental, Sirens (which was also used as a sample in Jay-Z’s Picasso Baby) except in a new, sped up iteration with lyrics called Sirens II. Younge co-wrote every song with Bilal this go round and everything feels open and acoustic for it. It sets the tone for the album whose literal heartbeat is the vintage drum set and classic pockets reminiscent of the soul music in the 60s. Bilal flexes his soft and mellow lower register, liltingly welcoming us to this new experience. The songs are just long enough with only one track that goes beyond 4 minutes and just under 40 minutes long altogether, yet, it leaves you full in the ears. The band traverses expertly through different feels, though it all feels closely related. Bilal’s versatility shines track to track and as an album it stands as another solid effort in a new direction.
The band puts you in the mindset of early Civil Rights Movement era music, but the content spans more than politics and struggle. Love, sex, money and mythical creatures are covered in this album, and not without all the spirit you can handle. A drastic change occurs in Pleasure Toy featuring Big K.R.I.T. An 808 drum kit booms on in an upbeat and groovy song. Though a shock to the flow of the album initially, it weaves in quite nicely with the rest of the album, with the help of the live electric bass throughout the track. Some tracks like Lunatic and Star Now take you to the far reaches of soul while tracks like Open Up The Door and Love Child feel open and fun. Songs like Money Over Love and the lead off single, Satellites feel darker and more contemplative.
Bilal’s work carries a sort of slow release effect to them in that the longer one sits with his music, the greater the appreciation. With each listen, I’ve grown more grateful for his genius, his performance as a singer and the writing. Adrian Younge’s written contribution hybridized with Bilal’s unique musical approach have combined to put forth a work that is both classic and fresh.
Bilal kicks off his album release tour tonight at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, PA.
Be sure to get your copy of In Another Life released today at all major retailers.
Check out “Satellites”