Though exceptionally cited, Houston-born singer-songwriter Solange Knowles seemingly finds solace as “the elephant in the room” among today’s music contemporaries; a lucid truth that unashamedly parries the best of pop, while delivering well-crafted projects with tidbits of its formula. In an honest and vulnerable fashion, the indie-welcomed chanteuse delivers a bubbly, R&B-nourished seven-piece set, appropriately titled True–backed by her latest distribution collaboration with Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear and his label, Terrible Records.
Lately recognized mononymously by her first name, the multifaceted rebel with good intentions wove a fresh take on 80s-pop and R&B fusion with British producer, Dev Hynes.
While big sister Beyoncé lifted inspiration from Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti, for her last album 4, Hynes opted to funk up the fun with Afropop elements. It’s the invitingly pervasive bass, electro-synth supplied groove and Solange’s subtle wails for a forsaken love that make for a charming listen.
Two minutes in and it’s pretty clear that the lyrical contralto felt on Sol-Angel & The Hadley Street Dreams evaded this project. On the lead single, “Losing You“, Knowles pleads for an answer to her mister’s neglect…
“I don’t know why I fight it, maybe we are through. Tell me the truth boy..am I losing you for good?”
Admittedly inspired by golden-era gems from producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, True shows its Janet Jackson flare on “Locked In Closets” and “Looks Good With Trouble“. The harmonies cooed on the effort make sense of her father’s past consideration as a fourth member of Destiny’s Child.
Though the production differs on “Some Things Never Seem To Fucking Work” and “Lovers In The Parking Lot” only in tempo, it’s the latter that settles best on the EP because of it’s unruly drum cadence, smooth ascensions from dismal low to cynically high tones, and the piano-laced outro.
In a style many attribute to Brandy, Knowles uses her vocals to enhance the production on “Don’t Let Me Down“, the most sultry cut of the set.
The final track, “Bad Girls“, gushes the most nostalgia with its lime-lit bass (played by Verdine White of Earth Wind & Fire) and shyly whimsical piano-led design. The honesty is felt most as Knowles wishes she knew why she was wrong for the mister…
“And still I try to throw you into my own hurricane
It’s like I you spot me trying from a thousand miles away
I looked down on your soul, deep down I know that we’re the same
It’s stupid thinking that you were one to come play my game”
Granted, Knowles is often acknowledged for her visual strides, we’d say the EP would sit well with most if it had an accompanying short film. Sonically, the 26-year old paints a vivid portrait of a lover scorned, yet fulfilled by the art of love–an ‘I love to love and hate you’, if you will. True enough, Knowles spent the last couple of years on, both, a sonic and physical journey seeking inspiration for new music and has undoubtedly drafted a crate’s worth of goods by now. We’ll take this as an interlude.
Genius Report: A
Standouts: “Losing You” “Locked In Closets” “Don’t Let Me Down” “Bad Girls”