Rose In The Dark opens with the harmonic mantra "One Love" before the jazzy bass line and drum knocks of "Why Don't You" entice us to settle in for a cozy listen. With dulcet horns and doo-wop vocals, the reggae-tinged "Young Love" is a whole mood. Meanwhile, "Rewind" and title track "Rose In The Dark" are steeped in nostalgic overtones. Cleo then proceeds to hypnotize the listener in two different ways – with the seductive sultriness of "When I'm in Your Arms" and the heartfelt devotion of "Sideways."
"Butterfly" passes the acoustic baton to the album's next two tracks – "Sure of Myself," a down-tempo ballad with lush harmonies, and "I Love You," an aching, Rhodes-driven tune that seamlessly segues from sparse to layered composition. The vintage jazz-soul vibes of closing track "Her Light" deliver a cinematic finale to this incredible selection of authentic soul music.
It's hard to believe Cleo had doubts about releasing the project. In a transparent post, she admits, "I've been going back and forth with whether there will be a right time to release music this year, as I always go with trusting my heart and it hasn't felt quite right." She continues, "But this is bigger than me, and I always have to remind myself I'm simply a vessel...so my album is here for u to listen to, to uplift you, move you or be your backing track vibes whilst we are all moving through this moment."
STAFF COMMENTSsays: Finding peace of mind amidst the constantly shifting background of apocalyptic news and mounting uncertainty has been quite the challenge this year. Thankfully, London based singer-songwriter Cleo Sol has created a sonic antidote for our pervasive lockdown induced malaise. Her debut album has proved to be a perfectly timed blessing - one that contains a collection of tender musings on love, faith and finding strength in moments of darkness.
‘Rose in the Dark’ is mostly pared back and organic in feel, with orchestral flourishes weaving in and out at just the right moments. Sweet, self-soothing vignettes are framed by rolling Shuggie Otis style grooves and sultry Badu inspired backing vocals. Yet perhaps the most rousing moments of the album are heard in the simple gospel influenced tracks where Cleo’s effortless vocal agility takes centre stage. It’s a compelling debut which carries a fitting message for our times: “Do you know, do you know, do you know that things get better?”