Tue Aug 26 2008
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
“I’m not becoming expectations / I’m not her and never will be,” Solange Knowles asserts near the beginning of “God Given Name,” the opening track on what basically amounts to her second debut album. The sentiment behind the line is clear enough: Solange wants the world to know she’s more than Beyoncé’s baby sister, even if she danced behind Destiny’s Child for years and wrote songs for all three members.
More than stepping out of a big shadow, Solange is rebooting her career after 2003’s ultraslick Solo Star, an album as calculated to create a mini-Beyoncé as Sol-Angel is meant to ward off the possibility. The new disc’s mix of retro-cool beats, head-trip electronica and straight-talking sass relocates Solange somewhere in the vicinity of Gnarls Barkley (whose Cee-Lo Green cowrote two cuts), Raphael Saadiq and Little Jackie, with admiring nods to Dusty Springfield and Martha Reeves.
The first single, “I Decided,” was produced by the Neptunes, and the album is stacked with further starry credits: Thievery Corporation conjured the dreamy groove for “God Given Name,” and Mark Ronson provided the fat pocket in “6 O’Clock Blues.” The weirdness quota spikes near the end with “Cosmic Journey,” an electro-ecstatic epic costarring Bilal and programmed by Soulshock & Karlin, and “This Bird,” a glitchy declaration of independence fashioned with Boards of Canada. A thumping remix of “I Decided” brings Solange back down to earth, but you won’t forget the escape velocity she’s achieved.
Buy Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams now on BN.com