album review: cleo sol - rose in the dark

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words: Amara Barrett Willett

Cleo Sol tickled us with new music back in January, the soulful Butterfly. The tickle proved to be a hint to much more, with Cleo Sol releasing Rose In The Dark at the end of March. A full length album, we get to know UK soul with Cleo Sol herself. Cleo teases the listener with rhythms and melodies reminiscent of the rare grooves of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Influences of funk and jazz are heavy throughout the album, with beautiful lyrics about love, loss and more.

Young Love, does exactly that. A groovy bassline, beautiful harmonies from the opening note and passionate lyrics that hit home to anyone who has loved before. Here Cleo Sol’s soft yet strong voice comes into full glory, from the high hitting chorus, to the delicate verses. Young Love is a reassurance that love will eventually come, and to be proud of your love. Truly beautiful.


Rose in the Dark, the album title is an exploration of Cleo Sol herself. A complex bassline underpins Cleo Sol explaining her growth, her rise, her promise to do better. The light quality to Cleo’s voice uplifts the song, reminding you she will prevail. Rose In The Dark is a song for us all, to remind us that we all will do better if we try.


When I’m In Your Arms is perhaps the standout track from the album. Never before have I had so much fun listening to a maraca. When I’m In Your Arms has a strong sense of nostalgia for the late 70’s and early 80’s, think Teddy Pendergast or Luther Vandross. Cleo Sol goes all out here, her light airy tone graces the hard bassline, and is only complimented by the harmonies in the chorus.


This album is a great piece of work for Cleo Sol, but also for UK soul as a whole. There is a distinct sound here, one that deserved to be played throughout these yikes times.