Album Review: Solange - A Seat at the Table
By Justin Cudahy, Contributor
Key Tracks: “Cranes in the Sky,” “Don’t Touch My Hair,” “F.U.B.U”
Solange Knowles' new album, A Seat at the Table, is her first full-length project in nearly eight years. It’s been in the works since 2013, so anticipation was high in the upcoming weeks prior to its release. By incorporating several different styles and genres into each song and combining it into a single concept, Solange assures listeners that it was worth the wait.
This 21-track concept album focuses on providing a social commentary on what it is like to be black in America. Different songs focus on different aspects, such as the social troubles that black community still faces, (“Borderline (An Ode to Self Care)"), preserving culture (“Don’t Touch My Hair”) and even gives a nod to the popular 90’s clothing company, For Us By Us ("F.U.B.U."). In-between nearly every other song is a short, yet powerful interlude that feature Solange’s parents, Matthew Knowles and Tina Lawson, who provide anecdotes describing what life was like growing up as a minority in the community. Each song transitions right to the next one, so the album is meant to be played from beginning to end.
One of the things that Solange takes advantage of is trying out and experimenting with different genres of music throughout, including funk, R&B, psychedelic soul and electronic. There even some songs that include the use of a synthesizer, giving it an 80’s nostalgic feel to it as well. As creative as it is, this technique doesn’t work in every song. For example, “Mad” takes on a rap/hip-hop approach and even includes Lil Wayne who takes on a verse, but feels very out of place from the rest of the album. While there are some songs that fall flat, there are other songs that may just be some of her best of all time, specifically “Cranes in the Sky” and “Weary.” Here, Solange demonstrates some of her best use of harmony with her wide vocal range and also proves to people why she is an excellent lyricist.
A Seat at the Table is an album that will appeal to anyone and everyone who enjoys music as a whole. Solange does a great job at taking on a sensitive issue going on today and including her views and experiences in the form of music. It is safe to say that this is her best album yet.
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