It goes without saying that in recent years the R&B genre has received a resurgence of fresh and innovative artists which have slowly won the hearts of mainstream music fans and critics alike. This rejuvenation and sonic evolution of the classic genre is being dubbed as the “Renaissance of R&B”. Solange Knowles aka Sol-Angel has remained at the forefront of this musical evolution since the release of her second cd ‘Sol-Angel & The Hadley Street Dreams’ back in 2009. Since the release of her eclectic and era-blending record, we’ve seen the younger Knowles come into her own effortlessly – not to mention becoming a fashion icon to hipsters around the world.

November marks a joyous time for the indie darling, as she just released the stunning ‘Saint Heron’ album, which serves as the first 12-track compilation project via her newly announced ‘Saint Records’ label. The album includes contributions from Jhene Aiko, Cassie, Starchild, Iman Omari and numerous other genre-bending artist. The debut disc simply is a masterfully crafted body of work which embodies a freedom of expression attitude by infusing electronic, pop and R&B vibes.

The  trippy cut “Lockup” appropriately starts off the collection, effortlessly performed by Los Angeles-based duo BC Kingdom. We are then transported to the eerie “Jaded” track sung by Jade J, which has a trance-like quality that made it hard to not attack the replay button. Singer Kelela’s contribution is sure to be an album standout based on the tracks trap/soul aesthetic, if not for her Janet-esque vocal performance. The DC native’s ‘Cut 4 Me’ mixtape has already garnered her a newfound following, and “Go all night” will only solidify her as a staple in the once deserted genre.

An experimental R&B album certainly wouldn’t be complete without one of the genres newest and brightest acts, Jhene Aiko. The moody songstress who is currently on tour with Drake, provides the album with the seductive “Drinking and Driving”. The track truly is a reassurance of her raw yet empathetic lyrical content we have come to expect from the LA native. Speaking of the emotional rapper Drake, his “The Motion” collaborator Sampha hopped on the compilation to take listeners on a hypnotizing musical experience with “Beneath The Tree”.

Solange not only contributed her own masterfully crafted song “Cash In” for the album, she wrote and produced a standout track which had twitter buzzing for days. Cassie – yes Diddy’s longtime girl – joined forces with the St. Heron movement to remind us that her first love is actually music. Solange achieved what only producer Ryan Leslie has been able to accomplish with Cassie, which is tap into the gorgeous harmony driven vocals the songstress is capable of. Although Cassie hasn’t released her oft-delayed and seemingly deceased sophomore album, this track proves there is a sound and niche in which the model turned singer could fill with the right producers.

Kudos to Solange, whose innovative thinking has proved that the rhythm and blues genre has yet to reach its peak, and will hopefully open the door to a broader audience while never forgetting it’s foundation. And for those R&B fans that have continuously voiced their distaste for this emerging sub-genre, just realize that in life everything must evolve. There will never be another Whitney, Patti or Stevie to grace the earth in our lifetime. So it’s time to cherish the extraordinarily talented artists we’ve been blessed to hear, while embracing the uniqueness and new musical perspective the upcoming crop of artists have to offer!


‘Saint Heron’ is currently available on iTunes! Be sure to download the album HERE!