It’s been a great year for female music in the fields of R’n’B and neo-soul. The ladies have been delivering album upon album, hit upon hit, singing of their empowerment and self-discovery. Cleo Sol, the U.K.’s neo-soul leading lady, dropped a solid addition to this run with the new album ‘Gold‘. Her fourth solo studio effort, Sol delivers on her winning formula: soul-soothing records heavy with introspective lyrics. Her music is the audio equivalent of a warm hug.
Last week, just two weeks after the release of ‘Heaven‘, she dropped this surprise project to frenzied fans. This prolific output may appear odd to new listeners, however, long-term fans know her creativity is never lacking. Creatively courageous, the enigmatic band SAULT, of which Sol is the lead vocalist, has dropped eleven albums in four years. An authentic lyricist and musical perfectionist, Cleo is your favourite artists’, favourite artist. Whilst ‘Heaven‘ is the album of her inner work, follow-up ‘Gold‘ suggests an elevation and warmth of a woman reborn.
Opening with a proclamation of self-acceptance and patience, ‘There Will Be No Crying‘ sees Sol singing over stripped-down production. This smooth opener lays the theme for the album, a spiritual journey brimming with hope and heart.
She is as open as ever on this LP, especially concerning her faith. ‘Reason‘ has her singing ‘There’s got to be more believers’. To anyone who feels lost, or lacking faith, this song is a must-hear. This is followed nicely with ‘Things Will Get Better‘, which is a classic Cleo Sol record – reassuring lyrics over a slow-tempo soulful beat. In addition, she exudes a maternal presence, as her sound resonates as homely and heartfelt.
‘Only Love Can Wait‘ spotlights Sol’s undeniable vocal talent, with a repetitive mantra that somehow doesn’t get boring. Then, the project takes on a deeply painful theme with ‘Please Don’t End It All‘. Music undoubtedly has healing powers, and this record will undoubtedly resonate with listeners going through tough times. This song is a perfect example of why the music industry needs Cleo Sol. Another artist crooning ‘You’re not alone’ might just not feel as authentic, but she is all heart. Furthermore, it is sonically present.
A personal favourite from ‘Gold‘ is ‘Lost Angel‘. More upbeat than records preceding it, an electric guitar delivers a funky groove to choir harmonies serving an addictive hook. Further to this, Sol is taking inspiration from gospel, as you hear her almost chanting the lyrics towards the end of the song.
As a new mother, ‘In Your Own Home‘ sees her paint a picture of her family and growth. Cleo Sol does what she does best, dropping gems on top of sleek production. This is evermore evidenced in the following radio-friendly record ‘Life Will Be‘. SAULT band-mate and partner Inflo is the mastermind producer behind this whole body of work, as the duo further showcases their musical chemistry.
Moreover, as the album concludes with the title track, Cleo pens a powerful message to her people. ‘Fear will slow you down and not help you grow/But what do I know?’. Despite her under-the-radar approach to celebrity, the bond between Cleo Sol and her fans stays strong because she lets listeners feel heard. Humble, honest, and refreshingly spiritual, she is carving out her own lane, inviting young women to step into their higher selves.