Music Reviews

Album Review: Solange – A Seat at the Table

Solange has just dropped her third studio album ‘A Seat at the table’ on September 30th in perfect timing for Black History month. This album fearlessly addresses issues of race, culture, the black experience and elements of mental health.

There are several moving tracks including ‘Don’t touch my hair’. Solange has described this LP as a “project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief and healing”. The music video to ‘Don’t touch my hair’ is quirky and visually stimulating, with Solange’s alternative choreography and the indie outfits worn by herself and others. Of course, the artist has several different hairstyles in the visual and as do the backup dancers, from braids, afros to waves and curls.

There are similar themes on ‘Seat at the table’ to that of her older sister Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ album earlier this year. It is hard to avoid comparing the two, but this LP competes with Lemonade despite the different musical styles. This album helps to demonstrate how Solange has evolved over the years. Her vocal range has progressed, particularly on the track “Don’t You Wait” that shows her falsetto.

Solange shared with Fader magazine that one of her inspirations for this socially conscious album was Claudia Rankine’s 2014 book, ‘Citizen: An American Lyric’. This was due to the author’s ambiguity which is something Solange also adopted when creating this album. Thus far this appears to be her best piece of work according to the public reaction.

“Move over Beyoncé”

‘Weary’ highlights how soulful Solange is; it feels like a late 90s RnB throwback. The light piano works beautifully with Solange’s vocals. This song’s message is powerful but is delivered softly, an amazing ability to have. Solange shared in a Fader interview that “in some ways, [the] album wrote itself”.

‘’Don’t You Wait” is completely alternative. The beat on this track reminds me of Solange’s previous hit off album True called ‘Losing You’ back in 2012. This lengthy 21 track album includes many interludes which bring it to listener’s awareness that race is a huge concept of this album.

Critics have described this LP as a “celebration of black identity” which could be due to the uplifting end to the album. ‘Closing: The Chosen ones’ states how we “come here as slaves…” Interlude: ‘Tina Taught Me’, one of the most inspiring interludes on the album, begins with “there is so much beauty in being black”; it’s about being black and proud, which is not often expressed.

‘Mad’ featuring Lil Wayne and Tweet is a major standout track, the chorus “there’s a lot to be mad about” is really catchy and Solange’s vocals and Lil Wayne’s rap verse really complement each other. The subtle addition from Tweet really adds a nice touch to the early 2000’s sounding RnB song. This song is brutally honest as Lil Wayne shares with fans his failed attempt to commit suicide.

‘Cranes in the sky’ demonstrates a different tone to Solange’s voice. It’s a very relatable track that is humbly honest. It is an emotional track, the vocalist bears all with fans. The track reminds me of a Destiny’s child track and happens to be one of the most popular songs on the album; Tina Knowles shared on Instagram that it is one of her personal favourites. This may be due to the fact that she paid an integral part in the designing of outfits for the video which are amazing. Solange sings “I traveled 70 states, thought moving round would make me feel better” which is evident from the exotic locations in the background of the music video, mainly based in New Mexico.

This album is critically brilliant with a strong socially conscious message. It would be lovely to see Solange go on an international tour later this year. While it’s a shame she’s still so underrated compared to her superstar sister Beyoncé, this album is definitely a huge step in showing haters and critics why she deserves her own seat at the table.


Amani Dauda

Image courtesy of Solange via Facebook

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6 Comments on this post.
  • Rasheed
    21 October 2016 at 18:58
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    Great review and appraisal of a seminal album. Well done AD

  • Liz Shaw
    21 October 2016 at 19:25
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    Love the albumn-you’ve nailed it in this review and a concert date would be icing on cake

  • Stella Da Silva
    21 October 2016 at 23:40
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    Great write up Amani and I agree with you, she is underated. I do really like her new single with a great music video.
    Hope to see more of your write ups! Well done! X

  • Judy
    22 October 2016 at 07:20
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    Totally captures the essence of the album – great review!

  • Henry
    22 October 2016 at 14:10
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    I was rather ambivalent about Solange after her histrionics in the lift with her brother in law. I don’t know much of her work,but i heard the lil wayne duet earlier today on spotify. I thought it was good. Based on this review i think I’ll give the album airplay and see what other tracks fall out.

  • Suzette
    22 October 2016 at 20:32
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    Excellent review. Very through, multi-dimensional and unbiased. I live the structure of this piece. Well done.

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