Using the past as a way to step out on her own, Solange Knowles’ new album Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams is built around the sounds and ideals of the ‘60s and ‘70s. The title song, “I Decided,” co-written and co-produced by Solange and the production duo The Neptunes takes a step away from their normal futuristic sounds for a stripped down piano-handclap-tambourine beat that focuses more on lyrical content than production.
As the only guest artist on the album, Bilal contributes both his vocals and songwriting talent to the song “Cosmic Journey,” an electronica-based duet about love. Solange also gives a direct dedication to one of her influences through “Ode to Marvin,” a rewritten, personalized version of Gaye’s 1971 classic “What’s Going On.”
Gracefully complementing the production, the subject matter of Sol-Angel ranges from falling in love, falling out of love, and the fragility of being in love, all in tracks co-written by Solange (except “T.O.N.Y.”). Unlike the majority of singers today, Solange relies more on balancing quality lyrical content and production than an album tainted with vocal gymnastics. Overall, Sol-Angel is a solid album that helps set Solange on a path unattached to B’s shadow.