Bilal is an artist who needs little introduction to fans of neo-soul, and his ever-growing following must surely be among the most loyal and supportive in the scene. To know Bilal is to love him, so ever since his new album was announced on npr.com with a taste of first single ‘Satellites’, expectation has been running at fever pitch.
More grounded and earthy than 2013’s ‘A Love Surreal’ (also on BBE), ‘In Another Life’ was made in collaboration with eclectic producer and composer Adrian Younge. Although Bilal’s soul and jazz chops are clearly evident here, there is also an underground indie undertone running through many of the tracks, complete with agonised vocal acrobatics worthy of Thom Yorke. In fact, if Prince & Radiohead had made an album together, well, it would probably make a lot less musical sense than this does. From opening track ‘Sirens’ the lyrical subject matter of the album provides a timely and human reflection on the confusion and paranoia of modern life, asking Marvin’s age-old question, ‘What’s Going On?’
Heavyweight guest appearances come in the form of Def Jam’s Big K.R.I.T., who provides a brilliant verse on the fun, 80’s boogie inspired ‘Pleasure Toy’. Man of the moment Kendrick Lamar spits lyrical fire on frenetic anthem ‘Money Over Love’, while the brilliant Kimbra turns up on languid, sensual soul/jazz gem ‘Holding It Back’.
Dedicated by Bilal “to the victims of injustice all over the World”, ‘In Another Life’ is surely destined to become one of those rare and special records which actually make the world a better place for all those who experience it.