Solange Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

Might just have you asking, ''Beyoncé who?''

Jan Gilbert 2008

It must be tough having a famous sister, especially if you want to follow in her footsteps. Sure a well-known surname may open doors, but think of the inevitable comparisons you'd have to endure and the media's constant coverage of any sibling rivalry.

Solange Knowles (sister of Beyoncé) has, so you won't find her surname on the cover of her debut album Solo Star or her latest offering, SoL-AngeL and the Hadley St Dreams. And to reinforce the fact that Solange is very much her own woman, she kicks off her new album with a plea to listeners to judge her on her own merits and forget big sis.

Fair enough. But if she wants people to let her ''starlight shine on its own'' and erase Beyoncé from their minds, maybe it would be better to get on with showing us what she can do instead of wasting time on God Given Name, a laid-back electronic soul track whose message has the same potential to nauseate as J-Lo's Jenny From The Block.

Fortunately things improve enormously when Solange gets down to business with the fabulously soulful T.O.N.Y, followed by the retro vibe of Dancing In The Dark, and the 60s-esque pop of IWouldveBeenthe1. Other standout tracks confirm Solange's vocal stylings are worth checking out: the infectiously upbeat Sandcastle Disco, The Supremes-inspired I Decided and its funky remix by the Freemasons, plus 6 O'Clock Blues produced by Mark Ronson.

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, Pharrell Williams, 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?''.

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