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Album Review | Solange’s ethereal latest album, ‘True,’ floats through its seven tracks

Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012

Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2012 08:12

It’s not easy being a musician when your sibling is one of the most beloved performers of all time.

Solange Knowles, Beyoncé’s younger sister, struggled with her first two releases, as she could never quite escape the comparisons to her acclaimed sibling.

Her earlier records, “Solo Star” (2003) and “Sol−Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams,” (2008) came off as slight and anonymous. While their Motown−infused pop sounds were fun, it all felt rather voiceless.

Solange’s latest EP, “True,” has the sonic unity and fresh perspective that will really get listeners excited about her.

The seven−track album is full of oddly bouncy beats and seductively wistful singing.

These ditties have an ’80s or “Off the Wall” (1979) vibe that’s hard not to bob along to.

The songs wash over the listener with their gleeful repetitions and airy sound. British producer Dev Haynes co−wrote the entire album with Knowles, which gives the record its unity and shows just how much can be gotten out of this particular style of music.

While Solange isn’t the greatest technical singer, her vocals fit wonderfully on these laid−back dance tracks. She sounds like Jessie Ware in a lucid dream, which nicely floats around the listener’s ears.

The opener, and first single, “Losing You” is infectious in its world−music sound yet the darker lyrics, combined with Solange’s superbly resigned voice, prevent it from feeling generic.

It’s the kind of song that the listener will be pleasantly humming all day.

The song’s strange beat is also so far removed from any of today’s hit songs that it feels organic and unmanufactured in comparison.

Knowles isn’t trying to chase trends with her refreshing new release.

There is a zen ambiance to “True.” It’s unafraid to use simple and constant beats and plain coos throughout the songs to hypnotic effects.

In this way, Solange is the R&B answer to Sky Ferreira.

Even the album’s shorter tracks like “Looks Good with Trouble” make an impact with their sweetly layered vocals, echoes and come−hither tones.

The songs are all seductive and fun, with just a tinge of melancholy to them that makes them resonate emotionally.

“True” at times feels like a modern interpretation of the 1970s quiet storm genre.

The songs on “True” go along at their own slowly mesmerizing pace and never bother with bombast and gimmicks, preferring instead to stick to deeply personal lyrics and spellbinding vibes.

The album does falter, if forgivably, along the way. The song “Some Things Never Seem to F−−king Work” has an incredible melody, magnificent synths and first−rate lyrics.

It stumbles when Dev Haynes starts speaking Knowles’ lines in an awkward mix of spoken−word poetry and bad rap, which ends up bogging down an otherwise delightful and well−structured song.

Dev Haynes’ vocals also end up interfering with another crucial part of this album — its smoothness.

That blip aside, all the songs seem to flow into one another without major hiccups.

It’s the kind of album that a listener can leave on as it slowly and surely unfolds itself in one long statement.

Many of the songs deal with Knowles’ acceptance and ruminations on a dynamic relationship that seemed to be equal parts love and pain.

This thread throughout the EP is another aspect that helps “True” sound so united and cohesive.

While these lyrics and ideas can be obscure at times, they’re always fresh in a way that is sure to keep the listener’s interest.

Knowles has stated that this EP is going to be a forbearer for her next album, which is tentatively scheduled for sometime next year.

The graceful textures of “True” make that a very wise decision. With this release, Knowles has finally come into her own with a personal statement fans are going to love.

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