Knowles family knows music

Solange Knowles scores big with her second album, Sol-Angel and The Hadley St. Dreams, in stores now.

It’s a rich medley of themes, lyrics and soul from yesteryear that are rarely found in the modern musical landscape. Knowles collaborated with big-names such as Cee-Lo, Pharrell Williams and Lamont Dozer to create melodies and music reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s. She experiments with electronic beats, arrangements and songwriting to update a sound summoned from the past.

Knowles makes a clear distinction between her ambitions as an artist and those of her superstar sister, Beyonce Knowles, with her first track "God Given Name." She is unapologetic about her music, her unabashed personality and her determination to dispel notions listeners might have had.

The debut single, "I Decided" hints at what’s to be expected with this album. While the single has remained low on the radar, listeners should give it a second chance.

"T.O.N.Y." and "I Told You So" are a couple of the album’s most appealing tracks. For "T.O.N.Y." Knowles sings, "Damn, this’ll make a real good song," and she is absolutely right. The song is sexy and empowering without being vulgar, and the musical arrangement is expert.

"I Told You So," featured further down on the play list, is the kind of song that has a hand on your hip, roll your neck and wave your finger kind of attitude. It’s the kind of attitude that seethes in the gut after a failed marriage or a broken heart. Knowles purges into this song for the perpetrator and the entire world to hear.

The album has several inconspicuous twists and turns, as it journeys back and forth from the dark side into the light. The angry anthem, "I Told You So" is followed by "Cosmic Journey," a trippy lullaby that concludes with a fast-paced techno beat and searing vocals.

Knowles stumbles a bit midway, but finds her groove again near the end. "This Bird" is an eerie song that tramps the naysayer hard-pressed for her failure. Enveloped in a foul muck, the song is redeemed by an easy southern sound at the end.

Her skills as a songwriter have long gone unnoticed, even though she has worked with Destiny’s Child and each of its members on solo projects. Sol Angel and The Hadley St. Dreams makes a bold statement about Knowles’ ability to thrive as a solo artist and songwriter.

Returning from a three-year hiatus, Knowles looks back on Hadley Street in Downtown Houston where her aspirations to be a singer took hold in a small studio in her childhood home.

She developed an ear for music and knack for songwriting listening to legendary artists with her family in the house on Hadley Street and throughout her upbringing.

Knowles draws inspirations from The Supremes, Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye, for which she pays homage with "Ode to Marvin." The song was modeled after Gaye’s cool, political chant, "What’s Going On."

"Hadley’s a long road to travel," but you should definitely give it a go.

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