Solange, XOYO, London
Beyonce's little sister is determined to do it for herself
Thursday 17 January 2013
Some artists know who they are from the start; others make art from figuring it out. The process of definition must be made a little more tricky, though, by being the younger sibling of probably the world's biggest pop star.
Solange Knowles, little sister to Beyonce, has had a few bites at the identity cherry. Having tried straight-up pop on "Solo Star" at the age of 17, and slightly-psychedelic soul-pop on 2008's "Sol-Angel And The Hadley Street Dreams", on recent EP True, she's an alt-rock-loving R&B heartbreak queen. Co-written and co-produced with former Test Icicle/Lightspeed Champion/Blood Orange man Dev Hynes (himself no stranger to a genre change) it's a delicate, melancholy gem, led by the deliciously bittersweet "Losing You".
Her first UK gig in four years, in Old Street's second-most hipster venue, gets off to a subtly sweary start with "Some Things Never Seem To F***ing Work". Hynes' mumbly rap is greeted with cheers, but it's Solange's taut, attentive delivery, garnished with easy trills that makes it.
The easy-tumbling rhythm of "Don't Let Me Down" with Solange and her backing singers' gorgeous interplay of 'oh-oh-ohs' is mesmerising, while "Locked In Closets" has a taut, nervy funkiness, and the oldies, from the vibrant, Lucy Pearl-meets-Mark Ronson retro jam of "TONY" to the 2002 Pharrell collab "Crush", are made to fit as seamlessly as she and Hynes' cute little co-ordinated dance flourishes.
It doesn't always connect; "Bad Girls (Verdine Version)" and "Looks Good With Trouble" drag in the miasma of stoned slow-jam so beloved of Hynes; it seems Solange is weakest when her stuff sounds most like his Blood Orange project. Their best work melds their omnivorous tastes, animating Hynes' very-now, emotionally delicate production with Knowles' impressive vocal artistry and grounding in the less-hip heritage of R&B (tonight she throws in a cover of "I Could Fall In Love" by Latin artist Selena).
Hopefully on her third album, due this spring, she'll be defining herself less through styles, and more through songcraft. Given the way 'Losing You' is cheered as if she's just given a Churchillian address, whoever she is, people want her around.
And while to mention the B-word twice in one review seems unfair, it's worth pondering that all it would take is one phonecall to sis asking for a guest verse, and Solange could be whisked away from all this to venues that could eat 10 XOYOs whole. She's one sister that's determined to do it for, and be, herself.
After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violencefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 3 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 4 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
Lucy, film review: Scarlett Johansson will blow your mind in Luc Besson's complex thriller
Miley Cyrus concert banned on morality grounds in the Dominican Republic
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
American film board gives gay film Love Is Strange R-rating despite no sex or violence
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians