Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley at Futureappletree Too
If we're not willing to let all of our emotions be improvisational, we're fucking it all up.
They should feel the way Bilal makes them feel - as if we were on all of the wildest drugs and as if we were dressed in a tuxedo, nice shoes and sitting at a table, with a two-thousand-dollar-a-plate meal getting cold in front of us. We should be sweating from all of our pores. We should be amazed. We should be staggering, feeling nauseous and discombobulated. Our emotions should make us feel as if we can't catch our breath, as if we had just been shot into orbit without any anti-gravity acclimation training. Your stomach goes into knots and you think that you're staring into the beady eyes of a bloodthirsty beast, waiting for you to make the first move. It will never make the first move.
Bilal's version of soul music is exceptionally delicious. It's delirious too, coasting right along in standard Motown, Memphis and Philadelphia sorts of ways before turning on a dime and going into Jim Morrison, Lizard King territories that you never saw coming. They are psychedelic, freak-out moments that are still hewn to a seductive vibration. There's plenty of lady-wooing going on, but there's a strange existential crisis brewing just as heavily throughout these numbers. The Philadelphia songwriter sings, "If I could block the moon and rob the sun from the sky/My love for you would still shine through me somehow," but he takes us through some interesting back alleys to get to that core tenderness.