Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Solange - Better Than Beyonce!

fourth blog post for Chordstrike

I'm not sure if I actually believe that, but it's an attention grabbing headline, don't you think!?

Rumors spread last week that Solange was going to be dropped by her label Interscope after disappointing sales of her latest album, Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams. Thankfully, Interscope have said those rumors aren't true: "Contrary to rumors floating through the Internet over the last few days, Solange remains a part of the Interscope Geffen A&M family." Phew!

If you're still confused by the headline, Beyonce and Solange are sisters; but there's lots of reasons why they aren't really suitable for comparison. Beyonce has been one of the world's favorite pop stars for a decade or so now, whereas Solange only has two albums, neither of which has even approached any of Beyonce's releases in terms of profile. Whereas Beyonce is a key figure in contemporary R&B and pop, Solange's music is more derivative of 60s psychedelic pop and 70s soul. On the opening track to Sol-Angel, Solange sings of: "Two girls going in different directions" and asks to "Let my star shine on its own." Well, her family connection is an easy angle for writers to generate some initial interest (moi? lazy?), but by rights her talent should enable her to stand on her own.

I think Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams is one of the best pop-soul albums in years. It's remarkably consistent front-to-back, with something to recommend in every song - not just the singles. Like the cover, it's extravagant and colorful, and like the title, it's quite hippyish. There's easy, bubblegum moments, but also interesting attempts to push the envelope a little - like when "Dancing In The Dark" steps up a gear halfway through, or when "Cosmic Journey" morphs out of its slow, psychedelic groove into a banging techno coda. And her voice is great - check out the heartfelt pleading in "Would've Been The One" and her alternately forceful/reserved delivery on "I Decided."

If only there was a way for you to hear some of these songs instead of having to read my blathering...

and a live version of "I Decided" which includes a little detour to Martha Reeves & The Vandellas' "Heatwave"...

Better than Sasha Fierce?

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