A candy-coated, left-of-center R&B playground
Sure, Solange is the sister of R&B/pop princess Beyoncé — a fact that will probably never be omitted from her CV. But while her musical means (a soaring soprano; wisely chosen collaborators) are similar to the elder Knowles, the ends are significantly different. Sloughing off her two previous commercial-leaning efforts (including 2008′s Cee-Lo Green/Mark Ronson written Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams), Solange enlisted production help from Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes for her new EP, True. The result is a candy-coated, left-of-center R&B playground.
Over seven songs, Solange coolly wields both a material-girl sheen and a recumbent royal swagger. Even when engaging in the vocal gymnastics of “Bad Girls,” she holds her power with a loose fist, avoiding a lapse into American Idol-style histrionics. “Look Good With Trouble” plays with Solange’s impressive restraint, its sense of late-night seduction created via layers of hypnotic looped vocals and minimal beats. The gloves come off for good-girl-gone-bad “Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work,” but even here Solange purrs the titular expletive with a dignified Supremes-style grace. However, her star power glows brightest on the crunchy, of Montreal-style freak-fest “Losing You.” Over a slow groove dotted with squealed vocal samples and light funk-guitar flourishes, Solange proves that she doesn’t have to shout to subvert the mold, or break it completely.