Perhaps Solange knew the comparisons to big sister Beyoncé were unavoidable, which is why she asks, "Let my star light shine on its own / I'm no sister, I'm just my God-given name" on the opening track for Sol-Angel and the Hadley Street Dreams. But if she thought that alone would end the discussion, uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh, oh-no-no it doesn't. Solange tries to mold herself as the weed-smoking, foul-mouthed, rebellious antithesis of clean-cut Beyoncé, but her efforts only make her seem just as contrived. It's a common problem among many contemporary artists, who try to force a conclusion on their audiences instead of allowing them to draw their own. Solange should just let her music speak for itself — it's certainly good enough. A hybrid of Motown soul and contemporary pop, sophomore album Sol-Angel... is a more polished and cohesive effort than 2003 predecessor Solo Star. Its infectious tracks showcase Solange's charm ("I Decided"), wit("T.O.N.Y.") and spunk ("Would've Been the One"). And when she's not riding the retro road, the superb "Sandcastle Disco" and euphoric "Cosmic Journey" prove the youngest Knowles is equally adept with modern sounds. Ultimately, Sol-Angel may not be as unique as Solange intended, but it's certainly impressive, and more importantly, refreshing — qualities that should see her realize those Hadley Street dreams a lot sooner than merely relying on being different would.
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