Bilal’s latest offering, A Love Surreal, is vivid. Even in its most brooding moments, the music seems to pop with an unexpected vibrancy. It hits and you should be ready for it.
Initially, I wanted to explore the first proper track from the album, a song that has already received considerable coverage, but definitely deserving of another look.
Bilal – West Side Girl “West Side Girl” is a lyrical birthday party. It’s just fun. I must have played that song for a half-hour straight, just so I could master the vocal cadences to lines like…
“Well, if the Devil wears Prada, this is Hell
It gets hot when you close to me
Love, drug, potion me
Burn like 151
I think it’s so much fun, girl”
All of a sudden, I’m dancing around my room; falling in love with a girl I haven’t even met yet. Lyrical 151. It’s that kind of real.
So, the plan was to do an in-depth exploration of that song and call it a day. But I told myself that I needed to finish the album first. Because every relationship needs closure.
And that’s when I happened upon “Butterfly.”
This is the track that completely contradicts that sonic buoyancy I referenced earlier. This one’s for the midnight sessions.
Bilal – Butterfly feat. Robert Glasper Bilal and Robert Glasper. That’s all the moment requires. And it’s an appropriate simplicity. A composition this tender needn’t be layered in grandiosity. Real emotion is raw and naked, just like this.
Again, there isn’t much to even expound upon. This is doing a lot with very little. To set a mood is to elicit feelings buried underneath. You do so not with hyper-aggressive overtures, but with a subtlety deserving of a response. This was a flawlessly executed endeavor. Modern balladeers, relax and takes notes.
I will say this. If the Black Jesus I pray to every night does, in fact, exist, we will get some sort of joint project from the two. Their chemistry is frightening in the most beautiful ways I’ve ever heard. Masters at work, I thank you.
Written By: Paul Pennington