Published Jun 26, 2015Bilal's years spent in career limbo feel like a relatively minor blip in the wake of the many artistically ambitious personal releases and guest projects the uncompromising singer has managed to string together in recent years. The instrumental role Bilal recently played on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly has given some much-deserved shine going into his latest record, and In Another Life is primed to receive that attention.
Gifted composer and producer Adrian Younge brings his revivalist approach to '60s and '70s cinematic song orchestration to the album, laying out freshly recorded, retro-style soul and funk soundscapes for Bilal to drape his multilayered vocals and fragmented love tales over. The album manages to cover a fair bit of musical ground even within its clearly defined, four-decade-old sound spectrum, moving from the tragic, closing scene feel of "Star Now" and the comparatively breezy soul of "I Really Don't Care" to the clawing, rock-tinged "Lunatic." The singer also channels Prince on the provocative "Pleasure Toys," one of the record's few wholesale sonic divergences from an otherwise fairly steady combination of analogue keys, taut bass lines, bright drum breaks and range of additional, yet sparing, instrumentation.
Bilal finds an excellent match in Adrian Younge for the type of musical exploration he's embraced with his more recent output here, and In Another Life offers yet another example of Mr. Oliver's incredible range. (eOne)