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Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams is Solange's second studio album that was released on August 26, 2008 by Geffen Records and Music World Entertainment.

TracklistingEdit

  1. God Given Name 2:51
  2. T.O.N.Y. 3:53
  3. Dancing In The Dark 3:57
  4. Would've Been The One 4:31
  5. Sandcastle Disco 4:28
  6. I Decided Pt. 1 4:13
  7. Valentine's Day 3:26
  8. 6 O'Clock Blues 3:37
  9. Ode To Marvin 3:15
  10. I Told You So 3:57
  11. Cosmic Journey (featuring Bilal) 6:12
  12. This Bird 6:08
  13. I Decided Pt. 2 (Freemasons Remix) 4:01

Album BackgroundEdit

Solange Knowles had been working on her second studio album on and off since 2005 following her return home to Houston, Texas, and her divorce from Daniel Smith, with whom she had lived following the birth of their son Daniel Julez in October 2004.

The follow-up to the critical and commercial disappointment of her 2003 debut album, "Solo Star" was preceded by Knowles's move from Columbia to Geffen Records in late 2007.

Solange was heavily influenced by Motown girl groups such as The Supremes and The Marvelettes, and by her mother Tina, a one-time member of the 1960s harmony group The Veltones, who used to play music by the likes of Dusty Springfield and Martha Reeves to her.

Solange decided to distance herself from the teen pop and dance-pop-oriented R&B sound mainly associated with her previous effort, "Solo Star." Instead, she wlled to create a concept album revolving around her growth as a musical artist and eventually got into the idea of a "sweet, soulful record [...] based around the Sixties and Seventies, telling stories of where I have been the last couple years."

Also borrowing elements from downbeat and electronic music, she discovered on recent trips to Europe, her vision of the album eventually resulted in a mixture that she has described as a "'60s/70s vintage soul record with hints of electronica."

In an interview with Billboard magazine, Geffen Records chairman Ron Fair said of the album prior to release, saying: "Her record is totally bananas ... It's not what people would expect from her. The music is more electric and international. She's in her own lane."

RecordingEdit

Although Knowles had previously worked with a wide range of high-profile producers and songwriters on earlier projects, she struggled to convince her wishlisted musicians to contribute to Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, production-wise. This was due to no producer signing on to the project before hearing any material for the album.[18] "I don't think it was offensive," Knowles admitted. "I understand that these are people that want to take on credible passionate projects. So before I would work with them I would schedule a meeting and play them the record. And then they were more convinced and willing to get on board."[19] Cee-Lo Green and Mark Ronson were not consulted until late into the production of the album, both having been persuaded by Knowles at the 50th Grammy Awards ceremony: "I had to party with Cee-Lo too to get him to work on the record [...] but once he did [listen to my music] he signed on immediately."

Solange collaborated with several studio personalities, including Jack Splash, Shea Taylor, Mr. Familiar, Lamont Dozier, production teams Soulshock & Karlin and Bama Boyz, as well as singers and rappers Pharrell Williams, Bilal, Q-Tip and Lil Wayne respectively.

In addition, Marsha Ambrosius of Floetry lent vocals to the unreleased recording "Wanna Go Back", while Raphael Saadiq and British singer Estelle demoed the track "Same Song, Different Man" which didn’t make it to the final track listing.

In an interview with Starpulse, Solange later said of the experience: "By the end of the project, I had worked with all of the producers and artists I had ever dreamed of including Q-Tip, Boards of Canada and Mark Ronson ... When I got a call saying the legendary Lamont Dozier would take the time out to write with little old me I was ecstatic beyond words."

Inspired by the aspirations of Solange's father Mathew, the album was titled after Hadley Street, a plot of land in downtown Houston.

According to her in an interview with the Daily Mail "My father took me there one day and told me he was going to build a studio. The title is a tribute to his vision. He had a plan and he saw it through. That was a real eye-opener for me. It inspired me to dig out my old Marvin Gaye albums and start writing songs."

Chart PerformanceEdit

"Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams" peaked at #9 on the Billboard 200 and #3 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, faring better than her debut album, "Solo Star."

Critical ReceptionEdit

"Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams" was met with generally positive reviews.

At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 72, based on 14 reviews.

Reviewing the album in The Village Voice, Rob Harvilla called it "bizarrely mesmerizing" and said that the idiosyncratic and unconventional lyrics of some songs invite "inexplicable but highly favorable comparisons to Kate Bush. (Ethereal but powerful, unhinged but in total command.)"

Ken Capobianco of The Boston Globe referred to the album as a "smartly executed, classy set of songs that's miles away from the hoochie pop being turned out by young female R&B vocalists these days."

Pryia Elan of The Times declared it "a modern classic."

Hartford Courant critic Dan LeRoy compared Knowles' music to that of her sister Beyoncé, writing: "Solange combines retro warmth and current cool in ways her more commercially successful sibling probably can't."

Jaimie Gill of Yahoo! Music called Sol-Angel a "fine, rich and extremely likeable record" and Francis Jones from Hot Press found Solange's singing "sassy and assured".

Vibe's Keith Murphy named it one of the best R&B albums of the year.

Andy Kellman of AllMusic cited it as "one of the year's more entertaining and easily enjoyable R&B releases" and found it "fun, silly, slightly eccentric and, most importantly, fearless", with most of the songs "soaked in bouncing pop-soul."

However, some reviewers expressed reservations.

In MSN Music, Robert Christgau gave the album an "honorable mention" and deemed Solange "privilege's child" who "runs through her options" in a defiant but frothy manner, while naming "Would've Been the One" and "I Decided" as highlights.

Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian called its music "savvy R&B with a gloss you can check your reflection in", but ultimately observed "a lack of both memorable tunes and the steely spined ardour that makes Beyoncé so compelling."

Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine was ambivalent towards its use of sampling on certain songs, but praised "the mix of organic, old-school instrumentation and more electronic elements", which he felt make it "a loose, fun and reverent record."

Rolling Stone's Jody Rosen found the album "embarrassing" for Knowles to attempt Erykah Badu-inspired psychedelic-soul on tracks such as "Cosmic Journey". He also remained unimpressed by her singing and the record's sound, comparing it to "a woozy lava lamp glow."

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