Cleo Sol is quietly one of the most prolific artists in contemporary soul. She’s released a treasure trove of music in the past few years. There were a slew of singles leading up to her 2020 debut album Rose In The Dark, which was followed by her post-partum sophomore album Mother in 2021 and no less than five full-length projects in 2022 as a member of the mysterious collective SAULT alongside her real-life and creative partner/producer Inflo. Cleo keeps the momentum going for 2023 with the release of her third LP Heaven.
Heaven is an appropriate name for this sublime collection. Cleo Sol’s soft, tender vocals sound like peace and blessings. Across the album’s nine tracks, she shares life lessons that she’s learned along the way atop Inflo’s intimate production that ebbs and flows between jazz, neo-soul and pop.
Sol begins the album with “Self,” a jazzy prayer to God to keep and protect her, even from herself. The next few songs are also rooted in faith. She imparts motherly wisdom on the empowering “Airplane” as she sings to her “little bird” as well as on “Go Baby” with its message of survival and “Heaven” with its positive affirmations. On these four tracks, Cleo is firm in her faith without sounding preachy, sharing all of her messages with love.
The tone of the album changes after the title cut. Cleo laments a broken friendship that still has her feeling some kind of way on “Old Friends,” but she’s resolved herself to its unfortunate – but necessary – end. “Miss Romantic,” the most upbeat song on the project, finds her giving another friend some tough love about a man who she needs to kick to the curb. Miss Cleo keeps the tempo up and the real talk coming on “Golden Child (Jealous)” and “Nothing On Me” where she is all about protecting her peace.
The set comes full circle with the final song “Love Will Lead You There.” She slows it back down to sing directly to her beloved and revel in their love, which has been a constant, consistent force in her life, much like God is.
Heaven is an exceptional album presented with graceful candor. At 30 minutes in length, it’s a quick listen, but it’s not fast food. This is an album that you’ll want to sit with to savor every song, lyric, instrument and note. Think of it as your favorite meal prepared by Cleo Sol with healthy ingredients to nourish your mind, body and soul.