Album Review: Solange's "When I Get Home"
By: Coura Fall
Just through the examination of the title, Solange’s intentions with her fourth studio album “When I Get Home” is very different than her third, “A Seat at the Table.” Solange, with a fusion of bouncy influence and ambient jazz and R&B, takes us into her recollection of her vibrant Texas upbringing. Where “A Seat at the Table” was a powerful social commentary on Blackness and an examination of where she is going, “When I Get Home” is a bright, yet subdued celebration of Black people and a retrospective reflection on what has gotten her to where and who she is today. Highlighting Black excellence, on tracks like “Almeda” through her lyrics “Black skin, black braids, black waves, black days... these are Black owned things.” On the track “Stay Flow” she highlights the different standards that Black men and women face through her lyrics “Man get down and they putting on a show, girls getting down every day.” Solange, with simple word choice and delivery, takes us on a trip showing us who she has become without forgetting the place that got her to this point.
The messaging of “When I Get Home” and “A Seat at the Table” could not be more parallel to one another. Many of the simplistic lyrics on her latest project focus on the past and her upbringing, as seen on the third track “Down With the Clique,” where she says, “We were rollin' up the street chasing the divine, oh...we were down with ya, down with ya” here she reminisces about her crew during her come-up in Houston. “A Seat at the Table” conveyed a desire of what the title states, an opportunity for the experiences of black women to be showcased in the mainstream as expressed in “Cranes in the Sky” and in “Don’t Touch My Hair.” Her latest album, “When I Get Home” is an appreciation of the goals reached in her previous record, as she shows gratitude for the culture, location and people that have contributed to the woman she has become. The 19 song track listing appears daunting, as it has the potential for a long run time. However, at just under forty minutes, Solange mimics the manner of how memory works gradually but swiftly. The slow, passive pace of the songs on “When I Get Home” feels like a long moderate journey, yet the recollection of Solange’s experiences with short tracks serve as a snapshot of her life story.
“When I Get Home” sonically may be Solange’s most ambitious effort yet. The versatility in the album’s song structure and production mirrors her varying experiences in life. From the bouncy “Stay Flo,” to the trap inspired “Almeda,” and to the rhythmic beat accompanied by Solange rapping with Gucci Mane in “My Skin My Logo,” Solange hits an upper echelon in regards to production on this record. The support of Tyler the Creator, Playboi Carti, Pharrell, The-Dream, Devonté Hynes (also known as Blood Orange), Steve Lacy, Sampha and many more helped compose a variant yet consistent body of work that revolves around Solange’s recollection of her early days.
Overall, “When I Get Home” is a phenomenal follow up from her critically acclaimed record “A Seat at the Table.” “When I Get Home” shows that the Black experience is beautiful, complicated and has the right to exist. The simplicity in lyrical content is complimented by the intricate and complex production, creating an ambient, nostalgic experience for the listeners. With Solange having examined the present and now reflected on the past, it is exciting to see what she’ll do in the future.