Review: Solange “Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams”
As evident by the quirky title and unusual cover art that accompany Solange Knowles‘ second album, SoL Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, Solange is a girl that marches to the beat of a slightly different drummer. No, she’s not as out there as, say, Erykah Badu, but she definitely doesn’t have much use for the traditional pop-R&B formula that so many artists, including her sister have used to propel themselves to stardom. And for that, she gets major props. SoL Angel, released on Aug. 26, 2008, is by no means a masterpiece, but it’s definitely a creative, outside-the-box collection of songs.
On her sophomore set, Solange not only takes on a sound that differs from her pop-driven 2002 debut, but demonstrates she has no reservations about sharing personal experiences. The breakup song “Valentine’s Day,” on which she gloomily sings, “I sure wish we made it till Valentine’s Day”; the regretful “T.O.N.Y.,” about a one-night stand; and the SoulShock & Karlin-produced “SandCastle Disco,” which finds her lightheartedly warning her Casanova not to break her heart, all demonstrate Solange’s frank approach. Elsewhere, the Bilal-penned, electronica-inspired “Cosmic Journey” and the ’70s-drenched, Pharrell-produced lead single The Supremes-inspired “I Decided” and its funky remix by the Freemasons, plus 6 O’Clock Blues produced by Mark Ronson further support the eclectic sound.
Pharrell Williams, Mark Ronson and the Freemasons aren’t the only big names on the album either. Solange has really gone to town bringing together a wealth of producing, writing, and recording talent to complement her own including Lamont Dozier, Gnarls Barkley’s Cee-Lo Green, Lil’ Wayne, and Q-Tip.
As well as playing with Motown-esque grooves, Solange makes an excursion into ambient electronics on a few tracks. And while Cosmic Journey would be fine if the trip were half the length, Solange is definitely at her best when putting a modern spin on sounds from the 60s and 70s.
A solid album which you’ll enjoy more with each listening, SoL-AngeL might just have you asking, ”Beyoncé who?”.