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Album Review: Solange - When I Get Home

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Two and a half years after the release of A Seat at the Table, Solange has finally dropped new material in the form of new 19-track record, When I Get Home.

Solange

Solange - When I Get Home

After teasing that the album would be released in late 2018, the rumour mill has been rolling for a hot minute. Now, after preceding the album with a takeover of BlackPlanet.com, Solange takes listeners on a self-declared “exploration of origin” as the visual album meshes together R&B, blues and electronica influences. A Seat at the Table was praised for its personal politics as a thematically and musical statement on black womanhood. Yet, even with such an impressive back catalogue, When I Get Home illustrates a maturation as a songwriter and achievements in lively production.

Opening with ethereal track ‘Things I Imagined’, Solange introduces a mellow and soft assembly that bursts in vivid colour. Accompanied by soulful vocals, her voice is like a cushion of reassurance, cradling the listener from start to finish. Solange proves herself as a woman who’s truly grown into herself, with adulthood and childhood staring each other in the face as she sings “Dreams, they come a long way, not today” in the collaboration with Earl Sweatshirt and Blood Orange on ‘Dreams’.

When I Get Home offers collaborations that complement its aesthetic; with contributions from Tyler, the Creator, Gucci Mane, Sampha and Pharrell Williams, to name a few. Still, there are concerns that the record is too airy at times as these inputs can be as subtle as ‘Down with the Clique’ being credited to Tyler, the Creator’s sparkling key instrumentation. Beautiful and soulful nonetheless, it’s difficult to deny that When I Get Home could’ve exercised featured talent a little more explicitly. However, Solange has perfected the art of seamlessly blending trap artists on neo-soul tracks. She's the Yin to sister Beyoncé’s Yang.

‘Almeda’ is pure gold. Sitting as the ninth track, Solange lists traits exclusive to black Americans with the assistance of Playboy Carti and The-Dream. Magnificent, poignant yet disruptively strange, the lyrics of “Black skin, black braids / Black waves, black days / Black baes, black days” collectively build the image of a unique body whilst laying out the tension between pride and pain. Heritage and home have always been important to Solange, as she returns to her roots in terms of production, melodies, and lyricism. At face value, the record is an ode to the Knowles’ hometown of Houston, Texas.

Solange’s efforts assert comfort and understanding to more than just state territory. As she sprinkles a touch of ‘home’ on every track, there is far more substance to her narrative. For some listeners, breathy vocals and punctuating interludes may cause the album to stagnate, despite Solange’s real talent laying in the fashioning of dreamy R&B for a meditative sway. When I Get Home is more refined than it is a development and ultimately exhibits Solange and her array of guests totally at ease.




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