Solange, “Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams” (Geffen Records)
Over the past five years, Solange Knowles has gone through some serious changes.
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After releasing her lackluster debut CD “Solo Star,” she got married at 17, gave birth, and later divorced — all as big sister Beyonce grew to become one of music's biggest superstars.
But now Solange is ready to carve out her own space in the musical universe with “Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams,” a retro-soul adventure that plays smooth like a magic carpet ride.
On the album's opening track, “God Given Name,” Solange let's us know not to expect Beyonce 2.0 from her. She sings: “I'm not becoming expectations, I'm not her and never will be/Two girls going in different directions, striving towards the same galaxy.”
Solange recruited a number of top producers for the project, including Cee-Lo, Mark Ronson, Pharrell Williams and Raphael Saadiq. She also has a duet with Bilal. But her work with producer Jack Splash (Alicia Keys, Estelle) is the highlight of her sophomore record. On the funky “T.O.N.Y.,” Solange and Splash create a rhythmic, suave tune that will have fans of old-school R&B and contemporary soul replaying it over and over again.
The vocal arrangements are impressive throughout, especially on “Dancing In the Dark” and the first single, “I Decided.” On some songs, you can hear the similarities in her and Beyonce's voices. But “Sol-Angel” proves that Solange has true star quality on her own.
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