Author: Briana Ellison
On May 6, R&B and Soul artist Bibi Bourelly released her EP titled “Free the Real (Pt. 1).” The EP, made up of five songs, is Bourelly’s first release.
The EP opens with “Sally,” in which Bourelly’s raspy and hard vocals open over a clapping rock heat that’s heavy on the drums. Through these demanding and soul-pounding beat, Bourelly begins her journey of unabashed self-confidence. Lyrically, “Sally” explores Bourelly trying to transfer her self-confidence and self-serving “ignore the haters” attitude to other women, including the one named in the title.
Second up is “Ego,” which starts off with an acoustic guitar reminiscent of today’s pop guitar gods and old tear-jerking westerns, but with so much more class and honesty. A blunt ode to her haters and the expectations surrounding her image and representation as a woman in the music industry, “Ego” is lyrically and musically flawless. The scratchy edge to her vocals meld well with the monotonous guitar as Bourelly promises her doubters: “you won’t bring me down.”
Next is the mesmerizing “Guitar.” Featuring the titular instrument composed in a dreamy and hypnotic chord similar to the best guitar riffs of rock ’n’ roll during the 1970s, this song is an autobiography of Bourelly’s childhood growing up in Germany and Washington, D.C. The song also features Bourelly’s father Jean-Paul Bourelly, a famous guitarist in his own right. The chorus brilliantly combines Bourelly’s alt-rock vocals, the ’70s guitar riffs and a tapping electro beat for an emotionally raw song.
The penultimate song is “What If,” on which Bourelly and her guitar are a powerful duo. On “What If,” the low, dark guitar chord flows seamlessly together with Bourelly’s growling and haunting voice and lyrics. “What If” is all about telling someone you love the truth, but is haunting in the fact that the truth is emotional, dark and disturbing.
The EP closes with “Riot.” This song is more upbeat, a – fittingly – riotous song about keeping on against the negativity. An acoustic song, “Riot” is a soft and short way to end an EP that’s raw and demanding.
Overall, I rate this EP an 8/10, only because I was a little let down by the brevity of “Riot.” After the preceding four songs, the more dire closer seemed to come out of left field. The song isn’t terrible – far from it – but simply the black sheep of the EP. But maybe that’s the point, as Bourelly, with her vocals that are more soul and rock than R&B, is the black sheep of her genre. Either way, I can’t way to hear Bourelly’s follow-up, whether it’s “Free the Real (Pt. 2)” or something else. Listen to “What If” below.