Cleo Sol: A Different Kinda Soul
Updated: May 7
The enigmatic songstress whose neo-soul sound is a breath of fresh air
Cleo Sol is the London-based singer who effortlessly delivers captivating and dreamlike music straight from her soul. Her mature and jazzy vocals only shine brighter when accompanied with the raw percussion and flute melodies typically featured in her tracks. The 26-year-old is rare in the way her sound is simple and uncut. Rather than heavily using synthesisers and hi-hats in her tracks, she halos classical instruments: piano, cellos, flutes, percussions and gospel-style voice harmonisations to create music that is pensive and thought-provoking.
As the clocks go back and autumn inevitably approaches, Cleo’s 2018 EP ‘Winter Songs’ will definitely keep you warm. The four-track project which garnered 7 million streams on Spotify featuring ‘Still Cold’, ‘Miles Song’ and single ‘Why Don’t You’ are iconic for the way every instrument – including Cleo’s voice – are individually heralded but collectively work together to form a vibe and sound reminiscent of 90s Erykah Badu and Sade.
Her performance of ‘Why Don’t You’ on COLORSXSTUDIO has been particularly noticed online, garnering 9 million views and counting. Her live rendition of the track mesmerised listeners globally and projected her into the limelight for the way she carried herself and projected an earthy freshness with her suave vibrato voice.
Since COLORS, Cleo has released singles ‘One’ and ‘Sweet Blue’ earlier this year. Her lyrics manage to voice her opinions on current and decade-appropriate issues. In ‘One’, she sings “All the forests are dying, the people are crying / How have we, let this be, we watch freely on our TVs / They feed us fake food, it's so easy” and seamlessly weaves her perspective on the global climate crisis into her lyrics. What makes Cleo so special is how she manages to extend the boundaries of R&B, a genre that characteristically focuses on love and relationships, to discuss contemporary concerns like climate change and civil complacency.
Her most recent track ‘Sweet Blue’ which dropped this May manages to create an airy and intimate atmosphere within the first seconds of the video. The elegant aesthetics of ‘Sweet Blue’ coupled with her quaint lyrics demonstrates the unique flair Cleo possesses – living true to her lyrics: “Just because I’m young, doesn’t mean I’m dumb”. Fans and listeners have compared the feeling her music brings to “drinking a warm cup of tea”.
Give her tracks a spin and you too would agree, Cleo's music unquestionably succeeds in generating inspiration and introspection, to calm and uplift, and to simultaneously act as a pick-me-up and a relaxant.
Graphics by Aamir Potrick