x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Sol-Angel & The Hadley St Dreams, Solange Knowles

She's not Beyoncé, write Gemma Champ, and, unless she can grab control of her wobbly pitch, undisciplined runs and desperately squeaky counter-melodies, she never will be.


Solange Knowles wants to get one thing straight. She is not Beyoncé, OK? She might be the younger sister of R&B's favourite diva, but from the promising trip-hop intro to the first song, God Given Name (in which she purrs: "I'm not her and never will be/Two girls gone in different direction/Striving towards the same galaxy/Let my star light shine on its own/No I'm no sister") to the disappointingly hammy Motown pastiches of the rest of the album, the decision to differentiate the younger, less talented Knowles could not be more explicit. The problem is that Solange is right: she's not Beyoncé and, unless she can grab control of her wobbly pitch, undisciplined runs and desperately squeaky counter-melodies, she never will be. The top producers and arrangers (including Cee-Lo and Mark Ronson) have wisely chosen to steer her away from the high-octane R&B that is synonymous with her sister and that failed to achieve results in her first album, Solo Star, towards a more mellow, retro sound, all swooshy strings, parping cornets and easy-listening melodies, painting her as a free-spirited, carefree soul chick. Sadly, that's a slicker, more cynical piece of styling than anything R&B has thrown at us.