One week shy of Bilal's newest studio album, A Love Surreal, the veteran soul enigma premiered the entire LP on NPR as part of their "First Listen" series. Still eclectic, still soulful, A Love Surreal evokes the soul-tethered funk early Bilal fans will be familiar with — his voice pinning each melody to the ground with that tenored sense of reckless abandon.
It's the kind of funky soul that is as explorative as it is intelligent, border crossing between jazzy basslines and effervescent synthpop. "Winning Hard" channels some of Prince's deepest cuts while the softness of "Right at the Core" leave the type of indelible impression we were marked with back in 2000 when "Soul Sista" flitted through our ears. At its heart, A Love Surreal is just plain fun, the way funk was originally intended to be. Despite lyrics chronicling massive heartbreak and other losses just as great, there is room to enjoy this soulful headspace for the genre of music it celebrates. If you're looking for a roundtrip ticket through the cosmos, let Bilal be your pilot. A Love Surreal is out on February 26. Stream it here in advance.