Editors' pick

Bilal

Rhythm and Blues
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Editorial Review

Sarah Godfrey reviewed a January 2007 Bilal performance for The Washington Post:

Hey, Universal Music: Please release Bilal's new album already. Rumor has it that the Philly soul singer's sophomore effort, "Love for Sale," originally slated for a 2006 release, was shelved following an Internet leak. While most people aren't going to buy an album they can get for free, even if the packaging is really cool, Bilal's fans are eager to support his latest endeavor. Exhibit A: his sold-out show at the Black Cat on Saturday.

Although the artist's only major release, 2001's "1st Born Second," contains incredible R&B alternative radio hits ("Fast Lane," "Soul Sista") and slept-on gems ("Sometimes," "Sally") that are amazing when performed live, it's unlikely that Bilal is able to pack a house solely on the strength of material that's roughly six years old.

The draw was new material, which Bilal referred to as "MySpace hits" and "bootleg specials." The most enthralling of the unreleased tracks was "Make Me Over," a manic funk love song with a bridge that Bilal's band played in the style of a "JB's break," in memory of the Godfather of Soul. Also noteworthy were the grounded lyrics of "Something to Hold On To" and the sorrowful "Sweet Sour You," produced by Sa-Ra Creative Partners, the electro-hip-hop soul trio who themselves owe a long-awaited album.

Bilal's incredible range has never sounded better, and he's never seemed more euphoric. Sure, his new stuff is trippy, genre-bending and a lot longer-running than most radio songs, but to confine "Love for Sale" to the Web is unacceptable. It's time to pull it down from the shelf.