It must be hard being Solange Knowles. Not only are you constantly referred to as 'Beyonce's sister', but you'll also perennially be compared to your multi-million-selling sibling - no matter how accomplished your own achievements may be.
Still, the younger Knowles is making a fair fist of being seen as an individual entity, having spent the early part of her career as a bit-part player and providing backing vocals on hits by Kelly Rowland and Lil Wayne. The six years since her 2002 debut 'Solo Star' has seen the 22-year-old married, mummied and then divorced - but perhaps those events have matured the songstress as a writer and performer.
Regardless of her personal life, however, 'Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams' is a likeable r 'n' b-styled pop album that's not nearly as commercially viable as her sister's material - thus ensuring that she's more likely to be taken seriously by music fans outside the chart realm.
Indeed, tracks like the jazzy God Given Name and I Told You So allude to Erykah Badu's more accessible material at times, and the sampling of Boards of Canada track 'Slow This Bird Down' on the excellent This Bird earns Knowles some serious cool points. Largely, though, she borrows from a pool of '70s soul/funk influences like Martha Reeves and Diana Ross (sampling The Supremes on Neptunes-produced I Decided, Part 1 to nifty effect). These dabblings are initially enjoyable, but quickly grow tiresome and samey, and it's up to the off-kilter musings of Cosmic Journey to elevate the album from its middle-section dip.
The guest producers (The Neptunes, Mark Ronson, Freemasons amongst them) do little to enhance this album, either - although Freemasons do turn in an excellent remix of I Decided. Nonetheless, Solange can hold her head high in the knowledge that she's got the smarts, and perhaps the potential, to give big sis a run for her money some day. She's certainly on the right path.