Review Summary: Great pop... smooth music for the soul.
As an infrequent listener of RnB, True
snuck up on me, unassuming and beautiful, assaulting my ears with sweet goodness from the very beginning. Admittedly, I neither know the baseline elements of good RnB nor the complexities of great RnB. But, perhaps my value in writing this review rests not in my ability to impress with technical knowledge, but to relate to the artist, her vision, and to others who relate to it too. In True
, Solange and British producer Dev Hynes develop a well-rounded but open-ended love story in just seven tracks. Despite its short length, True
has clarity of vision, and remains 'true' to it throughout the record creating an enjoyable and engaging listen from beginning to end. Solange skillfully delivers all she offers in the record, but the unfilled gaps show that she has even more inside her. The record, while undeniably polished, seems unfinished.
Powering the record from start to finish is the dense, snare-filled and beat-heavy background. Opening track “Losing You,” features layers of crisp sounds, among them African percussion and South African clicks and whistles, which set the record off with a chill tone. In the second track “Some Things Never Seem To ***ing Work” Solange maintains the mood she created in “Losing You.” She reflects on the naivety of young love. The lyrics, while slightly immature, work within the context of the song. They remind me of a journal entry I wrote in high school over some boy who broke my heart. Lyrics such as those are amateurish in most cases, but somehow the teenage-y lyrics juxtaposed with the mature and sultry melody temper what could've come across as moody and overly dramatic. In fact, throughout the record, Solange stays away from melodrama. She doesn't need big choruses, or ridiculously catchy hooks, because her tracks, from start to finish, exude an incredible sense of melody. She retains the personality of her songs, never adding misplaced vocal acrobatics, but nonetheless challenges her vocal abilities on “Lovers in the Parking Lot” which weaves an exceptionally smooth and well-integrated falsetto into the song.
The most impressive aspect of True
is its originality. The record takes the best from late-seventies disco and eighties synthpop and makes those sounds its own. Solange has created an independent and unique artistic space, separating her from the flashy artists dominating the radio. She shows power in minimalism. Unlike Gaga, Kesha, and even her sister Beyonce, she delivers excellent dance tracks, but leaves the gimmicks out, instead focusing solely on production, lyrics, and vocals; and none of them outshine each other. They all work in harmony, enabling each track to find its sweet spot.
stands out because of its consistency and versatility. None of the songs are weak and each improves with every listen. Furthermore, the record suits many situations; from a night-time walk, to a reflective lie-down, to a drunken dance at three in the morning. It's well-constructed and more importantly heartfelt. It's clear the songs come from Solange which is a refreshing and welcome change for a pop record.
Recommended Tracks: “Losing You,” “Lovers in the Parking Lot,” “Don't Let Me Down,” and “Bad Girls.”