Bilal, Airtight’s Revenge
Bilal’s first recording in nearly a decade is a remarkable evolution from his earlier incarnation as a neo-soul balladeer. By tapping into the West Coast’s blooming indie-soul circuit for Airtight’s Garage, he has created an unpredictable and surprisingly provocative work. “Who Are You” shifts from a idyllic soft-rock groove into lazy roots reggae; on “Flying” he sings about a drug-addicted woman in frank language (with help from producer Nottz), evoking Stevie Wonder’s classic morality plays. Airtight’s Garage has stunning musical twists, but Bilal holds the spotlight with an impassioned performance, elevating this album above production trickery into something rarefied and special.