Solange – ‘When I Get Home’ review

Score

This surprise-released, self-produced record is a reminder that Solange is an R&B frontrunner in her own right. It’s a celebration of women, black culture and – above all – music

On the February 28, Solange announced the surprise release of her follow-up to the stunning 2016 album ‘A Seat At The Table’. The frenzy that erupted was colossal, and rightfully so, as she released a record that confirmed her already established greatness.

Each of the 19 tracks on ‘When I Get Home’ is magical. The opening intro consists of minimal piano with the repeated phrase, ‘Things I imagined”; this simplicity runs throughout the whole album, as airy beats, like pillowy clouds, elevate the listener. The tactical use of repetition is used to place the listener where she wants them to be; right up there with her – there’s a real sense of intimacy throughout the record.

‘Binz’, for instance, has a 46 second intro of a repeated drum sequence and bass guitar. She gives us up-tempo and groovy vibes, and we can’t help but bask in the song, yet she strips this away with the vulnerable ‘Beltway’. This is where Solange lets the fun and playful side of ‘When I Get Home’ melt into something more unguarded and raw. Here she displays a powerful ability to manipulate her audience – though you’ll be more than happy to go with her.

In addition, ‘When I Get Home’ is a celebration. A celebration of females. A celebration of black culture. But mostly a celebration of music. With exceptional – and somewhat unexpected – features (Gucci Mane, ’90s rapper Scarface), Solange’s blended approach to R&B is nothing short of breathtaking. The ninth track, “Almeda”, boasts a universal hook, while Playboi Carti’s staccato ad-lib “what”, intertwined with Solange’s lullaby-like vocals, is spectacular, and tips the song into a masterpiece. The song’s celebration of blackness runs through Solange’s lyrics (“Brown skin, brown braids / Black faith still can’t be washed away”). The lighthearted feeling of track uplifts the powerful words.

In dropping her self-produced record without fanfare, she’s showed us the magnitude that women can achieve on their own. And then there are the lyrics. ‘We deal with freak’n’ is a spoken word skit about encouraging women to see their self worth (“Do you realise how magnificent you are?… We are walking embodiments of God’s consciousness”). Solange is using her platform to say: “We are unbreakable”, and she can’t be commended highly enough for that.

‘When I Get Home’ reminds us that she’s a frontrunner of R&B in her own right. With soothing production, enveloped with numbing vocals, she leaves you in a state of utopia. This surprise album of 2019 was something we didn’t know we needed.

Details

Release date: March 1
Record label: Columbia