Album Review: Solange — 'True'
Wow, it seems like forever. I've finally returned to my blog, (I know, 6 months later) with yet another album review. Woop! It's actually an EP, by the way, one that I've been wanting to review for quite some time now. Looks like I've finally gotten around to it. Solange released her first EP and third overall project, entitled 'True', through Terrible Records back in November of last year, and I haven't gotten enough of it yet.
If you're one of the many who still have yet to give Solange Knowles a fair chance at a full, uninterrupted listen, now would be the perfect time. True is Knowles's third studio release (following her sophomore studio album, 2008's Sol-Angel and The Hadley St. Dreams), and her first ever EP.
The seven-track retro-feeling extended play was produced entirely by British producer/songwriter Dev Hynes from Blood Orange, who also helped pen the tracks. Like an intro track should,"Losing You" sets the precedent for the theme and tone of the rest of the EP. The production sounds like a joyous drumbeat mixed together with gloomy sonic synth progressions that leaves you dazed and engulfed, much like the message behind the song itself. The lyrics tell the story of a lover yearning for the return of 'what used to be' as she questions the inevitable departure of her distant lover. "Tell me the truth, boy, am I losing you for good?" she sings as the production glides into an even more mellow synth. She seems to already have the answer to her heartbreaking question, and is heard hopelessly professing her desire for a content state, instead of allowing the relationship to languish. Something about this record makes you want to dance the night away in a room lit by colorful lights as you sip a strawberry daiquiri and await a text message or phone call from the one that holds the power of your current state of emotion.
The retro references can be heard throughout the entire project. "Some Things Never Seem To Fucking Work", (listen below) one of the stand out tracks of the EP, features disco-like synths that remind you of the 80's, the sounds of swing from the 60's, and lyrics that show a frustrated Solange, reminiscent of the past and hoping for more than what's been given thus far. "So maybe then we're better off." She suggests that maybe it's not meant to be after all, as she reminds herself of the reasons she fell so deeply in the first place. Oh yeah, Solo totally makes us forget the"f" word is in the title and the hook of the song, which goes from being groovy to deep and almost soundless, a technique also heard in the previous track. Dev Hynes also delivers an off-key confessional-esque monologue as Solo harmonizes in the background. These harmonies become a pattern throughout the record, showcasing Knowles's ability to vocally do just enough. The vocals and melodies are not underwhelming, nor are they beyond her means; they're perfect.
The bells and horns of the nostalgic "Locked In Closets" make you want to groove as well, as she reminds herself of her lonely childhood and ongoing quest for the things that make her feel alright. But Solo's not perfect and she never tried to be. "Lovers in the Parking Lot" is haunting and funky at the same time, and Knowles admits to playing around with her lover's heart during a time when she was just not done having her fun.
The message throughout the record seems pretty clear — the seemingly daring and unforgiving Solange has made some mistakes and craves love like the rest of us, and isn't afraid of getting into trouble and risking heartache along the way, as heard on the dark and wavy interlude"Look Good With Trouble." The interlude softly transitions into the final track of the record, "Bad Girls (Verdine Version)", which happens to be my favorite song of the project, and probably of 2012 all together. Yes, it's that good. Originally a Blood Orange record, the slightly altered lyrics, the added bass in the production by Verdine White from Earth Wind & Fire, and the story of a doomed and afflicted relationship heard behind Solange's vocals remarkably make it her own.
The EP is so breezy that it almost sounds like one long smoothly-transitioning and inevitably addictive song that you just want to play over and over again. And yet, each song is in a league of its own, individually. The cohesion rebirths an innocent groove that you just don't hear anymore, and mixes it with a rejuvenating combination of dark and groovy sounds that produce a seductive sensation.
It's not too much and it's not unfufilling. It is just as much satisfactory as it is abridged, but how long can you honestly expect an EP to be? True defines growth and substance for those who were already familiar with Solange, and for those who weren't — it exemplifies an artist with a unique sound, one who is truly in her own and pleasantly contrary from the masses.