ALBUM REVIEW: Solange – Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams

Solange released her debut album at the age of 16 – six months before her sister’s breakthrough Dangerously In Love – but did anyone pay attention? Apparently, only a select few obsessed Destiny’s Child fans. Five years later, with a 3-year-old child, a wedding and a divorce all in all her pocket, Solange might just be considered the wayward member of the Knowles clan and the closest person to rock star in their ranks. Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams is an artistic and highly conceptual project. Solange has openly drawn inspiration from Otis Redding, the Supremes and other classic Soul singers. Still, her approach is youthful, imaginative, and fresh. Jack Splash teams up with Solange for some of the strongest tracks on Sol-Angel – “Would’ve Been The One” and “Ode To Marvin.” The Neptunes gift her with “I Decided” and “Cosmic Journey” features Bilal. All these producers cover a different spectrum of sonic identity but the songs are cohesive – a testament to Solange’s vision. She presents herself as a product of great music and demonstrates how the classic sound of the ‘60s and ‘70s allows her to bare her soul.  Her voice is pure in tone even with its limited range. Her vibrato shows weakness on some tracks (“Valentine’s Day,” “Dancing in the Dark”) but she makes up it with presentation and lyrical content. She explores broken hearts on “T.O.N.Y.,” having sex after a joint with “ChampagneChroniKnightCap,” the certainty of love with “I Decided” and the uncertainty on “Valentine’s Day.” Sure, the Beyonce comparisons aren’t going to stop anytime soon but with Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams she definitely is carving her own niche. If the collective consensus was that Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams had much to prove after the disbanding of Destiny’s Child, try being the sibling of the music-making machine Beyonce Knowles. Simply put, Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams boils down to Solange owning her spot in an industry run by her sister. And well, the proof is in the pudding.

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