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Sunday, 2 January 2011


5/5. What is love? That's what Bilal Oliver sings and asks on the incredible 'All Matter', the opening track of his first album in almost a decade, 'Airtight's Revenge'. This experimentally, neo-soul album that sounds as fresh as the preceding year 'BLACKsummer's Night' by Maxwell and as classic as Sly & The Family Stone. Bilal channels all levels on this one, but primarily and most importantly his own. The versatile singer, who's sometimes feminine like, falsetto once blended his harmonies seamlessly with a Nina Simone sample on frequent collaborate Common's 'Misunderstood'. Here the Philly singer/songwriter fills us with an album that blends together perfectly. Although it has deep range, from the beautiful tribute to his son ('Little One') to the experiment on analysing the music industry ('The Dollar'). The more futuristic this neo-soul pioneer gets, the funkier it sounds as 'Cake & Eat It Too' can attest. On this brilliant sophomore (but really third) set this artist really does take his slice, giving everybody food for thought. 'Airtight's Revenge' is a dish best served with soul and this songbook has plenty of helpings. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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