Album Review: Solange - Sol-Angel & The Hadley Street Dreams

Posted by Mack of Sound-Savvy On 9:52 PM

Let my starlight shine on its own, no I’m no sister, I’m just my God-given name…

Artist: Solange Knowles
Album: Sol-Angel & The Hadley Street Dreams
Release Date: 8.18.08

I can really appreciate the fresh sound of this new album, Solange spreads her wings a little further and dives into a whole new chapter in her career. I think we're conditioned to immediately think of Beyonce when we hear Solange's name, but this album sounds in no way like her big sister. Solange's approach on Sol-Angel & The Hadley Street Dreams is very old-school and many of the tracks evoke the sounds of the 70's with the feel of the disco era. The production on this album is more similar to today's UK artists like Duffy and Joss Stone, rather than the overproduced mishaps of our own domestic megastars, a key element that sets Solange in a class of her own.

The more electric version of the Pharrell-produced I Decided (Part II) was chosen as the lead single for the album, but the more toned down version (Part I) is the better representative of the entire album. The latter brings to mind the sounds of the 70’s soul revolutionaries, Motown groups like Diana Ross and the Supremes (from whom this song is sampled). Along the way, Solange adopts the sound of that classic era, especially on tracks like Dancin’ in the Dark, which is led by a bluesy horn and crisp percussion. The second single, Sandcastle Disco, is another track that leads perfect way to the album, with its tight harmonies on the hook and crisp instrumental backdrop. If I had to choose a favorite, I’d go for T.O.N.Y., which gives a very jazzy club background over which Solange reminisces about a forgone love fling.

There are, however, moments on this album where Solange doesn’t quite hit the mark. 6 O’clock Blues is a track that seems too big for her range and vocal ability, and her voice simply gets lost beneath the production. The album’s one collaboration, Cosmic Journey, which features soul singer Bilal, seems to just be missing something altogether, and after the transition, I’m still wondering what she was trying to achieve. On Ode To Marvin, the sound of the legendary entertainer is evoked, but the production on the track overshadows Solange, and we find her yet again caught in the undertow.

Sol-Angel is very Motown, complete with the soulful harmonies and live band production that marked some of the greatest groups of a classic era in music. It’s a fresh sound for Solange and is nothing like her oft-compared sister. Solange’s sound may not be completely her own, but it’s not like anything else out right now, so give her credit for being different (I mean, did she really have a choice?). Personally I like this album, and it’s a good buy for any true fans of R&B music. For the hour or so that this album spins, she’s not Beyonce's sister, nor Jay-Z's sister-in-law; not the daughter of Matthew and Tina, she has her own God Given Name and when you listen to this album, you will know it.


1 Comment

  1. Kimesha Said,

    I agree! Solange surprised me with this album. I have told people that I think she blew Beyonce's album out the water on this one. In my opinion, Beyonce sometimes has "teenyboppers" music and Solange is much more soulful. This album has some classic cuts on it. "T.O.N.Y." is one of my faves as well as "I told you so."

    She has truly evolved and into her own sound. She isn't copying (anyone out right now) but she is bringing that old school soulful REAL R&B back. There is nothing wrong with being a copycat, just as long as you copying the right cat.

    Posted on September 3, 2008 at 2:42 PM


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