THERE’S NOT EXACTLY a surplus of sensual yet sophisticated funk/soul artists willing to break out of genre the way Prince did back in the 1980s, so the third album by singer-songwriter Bilal Sayeed Oliver comes as a delightful surprise.
Although he doesn’t actually sound like Steely Dan, I couldn’t help but thinking of that group while listening to Bilal’s third album, A Love Surreal. He’s got that touch of low-riding jazz and style about him, and an aroma of musicality, together with a touch of slickness.
What he does actually sound like is a cross between Marvin Gaye and the aforementioned Prince, or at least he flits between the two, and that stylistic debt is one of his biggest negatives – while both artists have much to commend them, aping them vocally only makes Bilal come across like a TV talent show try-hard, at least some of the time.
Still, there’s plenty to like about A Love Surreal, with its slinky funk feel and post-hip-hop sound engineering. But for all that, guys are rather left out in the cold, for this song-suite is specifically catering for women, as each song apparently targets a different phase of a relationship.
I just wish he wouldn’t pout his lips like that. Is it really necessary?GARY STEEL
Music = 3.5/5
Sound = 3.5/5