Album Preview: Solange - 'SoL-AngeL and The Hadley St. Dreams'

  /  06.12.2008

Solange Knowles

Select members of the press and other industry VIPs gathered at Record Plant Studios in Hollywood to hear Solange Knowles’ sophomore album SoL-AngeL and The Hadley St. Dreams. Solange’s father/manager Mathew Knowles previewed 14 tracks off the singer/songwriter’s LP, which he says is 95% final. The soul/pop album combines elements of Motown with electronic music, channeling Amy Winehouse, Gnarls Barkley, and even Björk.

The 21-year-old worked with producers such as The Neptunes, Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen), Jack Splash (Alicia Keys, John Legend), and Gnarls’ Cee-Lo Green. Guests include Lil Wayne, Q-Tip, Bilal, and Floetry’s Marsha Ambrosia. Mr. Knowles revealed that a Duffy collaboration with Raphael Saadiq is in the works and that Estelle demoed a song for the album, but it didn’t make it.

While the music is very different from anything out of the Destiny’s Child camp, Knowles is “hopeful that this can become mainstream,” yet admits that it’s going to be “hard work.” Geffen and Music World are aiming at the “intellectual, backpacking, coffee shop, digital kid.” Where Beyoncé wants her vocals perfect, Solange wants them raw. As fans will hear on August 26th, Beyoncé’s lil’ sis is in a league of her own.

1. “God Given Name”
Produced by Soulshock & Karlin

Solange and Beyoncé’s favorite song on the album. On the melodic track, Solange sings: “I’m not becoming expectations, I’m not her and never will be.”

2. “6 O’Clock Blues”
Produced by Mark Ronson

This throwback has a ’60’s groove. The uplifting track features drums and recalls Amy Winehouse. Solange sings about being happy as long as she has her man. “If my house falls down in the river, as long as we got each other, we can overcome the madness of the world.”

3. “I Decided (Part I)”
Produced by The Neptunes

The first single with a killer video directed by Melina. Part I of the song was directed by The Neptunes and co-written by Cee-Lo. Part II is the Freemasons remix released in the U.K. There is a video for that too which is similar to the Part I video.

4. “Sandcastle Disco” featuring Q-Tip
Produced by Soulshock & Karlin

The second single off the album, which will feature Q-Tip. A video will be shot within the next month. Cee-Lo co-wrote the song with Solange. Upbeat, summertime jam: “I’m a cool ol’ Jane with a skip on my feet, I play tough as nails with my heart on my sleeve, I’m nothing but a sandcastle, baby don’t blow me away.”

5. “T.O.N.Y.”
Produced by Jack Splash

Stands for “The Other Night Why (Did I Do That?)” Possible third single co-written by Cee-Lo. Uptempo song reminiscent of The Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around” with a guitar riff. Solange hopes it will be an anthem for ladies who made the mistake of sleeping with a guy too soon in the relationship. “T.O.N.Y. don’t call me no more, no not at all no more, I’m not in a rush to feel rejected.”

6. “I Told You So”
Produced by Shea Taylor

Soulful number where Solange sings, “And so I’m writing this song for the day I see I’m right, I’ll play this record, while I cry and I say, I told you so.” Sounds like a song you might hear on a Beyoncé album.

7. “IWouldveBeenthe1”
Produced by Jack Splash

This was not played at the listening.

8. “An Ode to Marvin”
Produced by Jack Splash

Goes back to the Motown era, similar to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” Mathew Knowles told a story of how he would sing Smokey Robinson’s “Here I Go Again” when Tina Knowles was pregnant with Beyoncé and Solange. “They get their perfect pitch from their father,” he joked. The song opens with, “This song is for my people, I wanna know where we going, cuz I’m right beside you.”

9. “ShampagneChroniKnightCap” featuring Lil Wayne
Produced by Bama Boyz

The hard-knocking, psychedelic track has a trippy effect. It’s one of Mathew’s favorites and features a rap from Wayne that’s just as weird as the song itself.

10. “Valentine’s Day”
Produced by Bama Boyz

The only ballad on the album, but it still manages to be upbeat. Solange sings about how she met her boyfriend and hoped the relationship would last until Valentine’s Day. “You know what kind of gifts I give my baby,” Solange sang before Mathew cut off the track. “Daddy can’t play the rest of that,” he laughed.

11. “Cosmic Journey” featuring Bilal
Produced by Soulshock & Karlin

This song sounds just like its title. It features breathy, echoey vocals and gives off an outer space vibe. Bilal sings, “Far into the night you and I don’t look back and you’ll find me.” Halfway through the song it gets faster like a spaceship taking off, turning into trance, techno, house music. Solange ends with “I want to go high, so high.”

12. “This Bird”
Samples Boards of Canada’s “Slow This Bird Down”

The futuristic, electronic track has a pulsing groove. Toward the end, it almost sounds like a country song. “I’m not going to slow this bird down, I don’t wanna look life in the eye.” Solange closes with a high note.

13. “White Picket Dreams”
Produced by Shea Taylor

Mathew says Solange is trying to “build her own identity” in a successful family and that’s what this song is about. “It’s possible we all want a dream that’s so far away and my white picket dreams are home enough,” she sings.

14. “Wanna Go Back” featuring Marsha Ambrosia and Q-Tip
Produced by Brian “Allday” Miller

Marsha of Floetry sings background vocals and Q-Tip raps: “We’re not far away, we right here.” The Big Band cut features live instruments and has a jazz sound. It’s Mathew’s favorite song musically. “Beautiful journey, how long will it last, yesterday’s calling, calling from the past, just can’t stay away too close, yesterday’s gone,” Solange sings. A beautiful journey indeed.

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