True. Google her name and you’ll find that if you squint, she looks a little bit like Beyoncé.
As far as I can tell, the comparison ends there; though Solange is Mrs Jay-Z’s younger sister, her music doesn’t blindly imitate Beyoncé’s. Solange’s singing style is breathier and less showy, and the songs on True are much more stripped down than anything I’ve heard from Beyoncé, focused on the beats rather than the grandeur of the vocals. I respect Beyoncé – she has a powerful voice and does a lot for charity on the side – but there’s something self-absorbed about her music: she’s become an idol, anything she touches turns to gold, and so the songs (and videos) tend to centre on her. Solange, by contrast, doesn’t always have to be the focus of the mix, and it’s refreshing. Perhaps it’s unfair to compare Solange to her big sis, though, she’s probably been getting it all her life – and irrespective of her family ties, True is a very listenable EP.
As someone relatively new to the fringes of modern R&B, I can’t offer many comparisons, but I can say that this release isn’t as far from Of Montreal’s False Priest, on which Solange starred, as I would have expected; at the edges of the pop world, genres start to blend together and toy with one another’s sounds. There’s a lot of toying with sounds on this EP, from the repeated squeal laid over sampled beats and ambient noise in the opening of ‘Losing You’ to the funky walking bass of the final track, ‘Bad Girls’. Does it always work? Perhaps not. It’s a matter of opinion, but for me, the chorus of ‘Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work’ proves its own point, and on some of the tracks, the beats can get repetitive. Having said this, there are some extremely catchy and compelling songs on True, particularly ‘Lovers in the Parking Lot’, which showcases Solange’s skilful vocals to their full advantage. ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ is also a gem, a slow but edgy track that would soon have a whole party on the dancefloor.
No doubt about it, the Knowles family has no shortage of musical talent. I’d encourage everyone listen to True; it may not be regarded as a pop classic in 20 years’ time, but it’s pretty awesome in the here and now.