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"I'll never be picture perfect Beyonce," our latest visit to the Knowles family sings on a cut that didn't make the final album. That's because the voice behind Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams is nothing like her 'Irreplaceable' sister, yet Solange Knowles is a little known secret that is ready to make waves in an industry that her elder sister has already conquered.
At 22 years-old, Solange's arrival has been held up by her marriage at the age of 17 and subsequent pregnancy leading to the birth of Daniel Julez Smith Jr. in October 2004. Solange's marriage to the American football was short-lived, with their divorce in 2007. A debut album titled 'Solo Star' was released prior to this, however it was panned by the critics.
Whilst Solange has been heavily involved in producing both of her albums, this has not stopped her from contributing to Destiny's Child efforts -- and penning tracks for both Beyonce and Michelle Williams. There was also a cameo appearance from Solange in the Destiny's Child video for 'Soldier' where she is pregnant with her son. Unfortunately, whilst promoting the album, Solange has been unable to express herself in a positive light. Appearances on UK television have included low-profile such as the 'Charlotte Church Show', and we know what she's famed for since her fall from grace. Solange also caused huge controversy for verbally attacking a US interviewer for comments she made about her sister and brother-in-law, Jay-Z, live on air. This unpredictable nature has seen the public turn on Solange for being unprofessional.
01, God Given Name (2.51)
02, T.O.N.Y. (3.54)
03, Dancing in the Dark (3.57)
04, Would've Been the One (4.30)
Rather than directly competing with Beyonce for a commercial R&B sound, everything on the album sounds heavily infulence on music from the 1960's, although it has been more advertised as a combination of R&B with blues and jazz. I feel it would be unfair for me to individually rate the opening four tracks, as to me they all sound the same -- but this could be because I'm not included in the 'intellectual, backpacking, coffee shop, digital kid' clientele -- that Hadley St. Dreams is apparently intended for. To me the four tracks all sound the same, and if this was playing in the background at Starbucks I wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
05, Sandcastle Disco (4.28)
06, I Decided, Part 1 (4.13)
'I Decided' was the first single to be taken from the album, and was the first time I had ever heard a musical offering from Solange Knowles. My immediate impression was positive, as it was great for a one-off to hear modern music with samplings from The Supremes, a completely different era of music. The accompanying music video even grabbed the imagination, and whilst 'I Decided' is probably going to become one of the most unappreciated tracks of all time -- it is also the shining moment of the album that is completely overkilled by hippy infulences. 'Sandcastle Disco' is the second track to be lifted from the album, and whilst it is more identifiable than anything before it, it lacks the killer hook of 'I Decided' and is hugely unlikely to make any real impact on the charts.
07, Valentine's Day (3.26)
08, 6 O'Clock Blues (3.37)
09, Ode to Marvin (3.15)
10, I Told You So (3.56)
Whilst some reviews have described Solange's vocal abilities as 'woozy', which they are in comparison to anything we have ever heard from Beyonce (she almost sounds high), others have given the album perfect scores and referred it as the savior of her music career. I feel the people that are giving the positive scores are the ones that are appreciating that Solange is trying to do something completely different here, and not listening to it on the basis of her being Beyonce's little sister. I am one of the people here that wants to try and do an almost exact comparison, and you just simply can't. And whilst I am able to tell when these four songs start and the next begins, it doesn't mean that I actually enjoy any of them.
11, Cosmic Journey ft. Bilal (6.11)
12, This Bird (6.07)
13, I Decided, Part 2 (4.00)
Taking it to account almost everything up to date has been purely background music, I am feeling disturbed that I will have to sit through two six minute plus tracks. Featured artist Bilal describes himself as a jazz singer, who most recently appeared on The Game's third album. 'I Decided, Part 2' is the Freemasons remix that was made especially for the UK market. What was already an appealing sing-a-long track, the Freemasons give the track more of a dance appeal. It's hard to say which is the better, but it all depends on personal preference.
14, ChampagneChroniKnightCap ft. Lil Wayne (4.53)
15, White Picket Dreams (4.22)
Considering the last sixteen minutes of music were able to be summed up in two very short paragraphs, it is great to see a huge hiphop name the size of Lil Wayne on one of two bonus tracks. Lil Wayne has suddenly immerged as the biggest name in music from the US, and his appearance gives the track some much needed character. 'White Picket Dreams' screeches the album to a close like a speeding car about to crash around a corner. Everything was in place for Solange Knowles to become the successor to her sisters crown, however you do have to commend her for taking her route rather than deciding to make her album a collection of features from Jay-Z and friends. Production credits from Pharrell Williams and Mark Ronson mean the album has currently peaked at #9 on the US Billboard.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 God Given Name
3 Dancing in the Dark
4 Would've Been the One
5 Sandcastle Disco
6 I Decided, Pt. 1
7 Valentine's Day
8 6 O'Clock Blues
9 Ode to Marvin
10 I Told You So
11 Cosmic Journey - Bilal, Solange Knowles, Solange
12 This Bird
13 I Decided, Pt. 2 [Freemasons Remix]