By Asha Burtin
The London born singer-songwriter, Cleopatra Zvezdana Nikolic, better known as Cleo Sol, has returned with her third album, “Heaven,” released on Sept. 15, produced by Inflo. We last heard from Cleo Sol in 2021 with the release of her sophomore album “Mother,” which was a bittersweet but beautiful album detailing her experiences with adolescence, motherhood and love.
“Heaven,” is a nine track, 30-minute album that starts with a song titled “Self.” Lyrics in the first verse read, “Ooh, save me/Save me from myself/Ooh, be gentle/Gentle with myself.” Within the first seven words of the song, we already know where Cleo’s mind is. She is taking us on an introspective journey on an album that in many ways appears to be a letter to herself. On the third track of the album, titled “Go Baby,” she sings “ Go baby, go baby, go baby/Hope that God forgives your sins, your sins, your sins, your sins.” The song’s repetitive nature appears to be a mantra for the singer-songwriter.
At the halfway point of the album, with songs four and five, we get to hear “Heaven” and “Old Friends.” Cleo Sol posted a snippet of the song “Heaven,” on her Instagram a little less than a month before the release of the album. Some of the lyrics from the third verse read, “That was sent from Heaven/Loving yourself is free/Please never change.”
As we continue through Cleo Sol’s journey, in the song “Old Friends,” Cleo sings, “Years have gone by, tears still stain my pillow/You played games with my emotions/Real friends don’t leave their wounds open/But I’m okay to say that it’s over.” “Old Friends” is pivotal in terms of the themes being presented in the album.
Throughout the song, Cleo Sol expresses that change is OK despite the pain she feels, and that she has to choose herself rather than staying in a space that isn’t safe. In all of her albums, Cleo Sol often voices the importance of self worth amid the pain that she has been put through. Similar sentiments can be heard in songs like “Build Me Up” and “Don’t Let It Go Your Head,” from her second album, or “Sure of Myself” and “Rose in the Dark” from her first.
At the end of “Heaven,” we get the last two songs, “Nothing on Me,” and “Love Will Lead You There.” In “Nothing on Me,” there is only one verse, spread across the full two minutes and 44 seconds of the song.
The first half of the lyrics read, “You got nothing on me/Love has set me free/Go if you want to leave/Nothing is worth destroying peace of mind.” The penultimate song is self explanatory, is applicable and yet it fits perfectly in the sequence of the album. Finally, we hear “Love Will Lead You There,” which is probably my favorite song on the album. The simple but deliberate acoustic ballad does not have to do much to get its point across.
The song’s bridge reads, “A treasure, our love is/I’ll always show up for you/Just tell me and I’ll be there,” which goes into the final chorus: “Love will lead you there/Love will lead you there/Love will lead you there/Oh, love will lead you there.” Once again, Cleo Sol has crafted an album that provides something to reflect on, the importance of love, both for the self and for everyone, and it is completely worth the listen.