Since 2002, Solange has consistently proven to be an innovative artist. She redefined neo soul with her 2016 album A Seat at the Table as she unapologetically expressed her views on culture and identity for black women. Almost three years later, Solange has expanded her artistic horizons by pushing musical boundaries, increasing her work in museum installations, cultivating stylistic music videos, and putting on unique live performances. She continues the conversation in her compelling new album, When I get Home. Solange invites you to her hometown of Houston, Texas to see her world as it is.
When I get Home is a rhythmic album that bounces from one place to another. The slow shoulder-swaying drive and catchy choruses are captured within a dreamlike world. Always paying tribute to her old-school roots and bringing back funky hip hop as heard in “Stay Flo.” However, she still manages to catch you off-guard with her atmospheric fantasy in track ten, “Time (Is).” Her strong songwriting abilities come out in the way she acts as a storyteller. Controlling the narrative with her powerful voice, she decorates the mood with a variety of vocal ensembles in “Down with the Clique.” Accompanied by casual elegance of the jazzy beats and symphonic chord progressions, the rhythm keeps the swing in your step. She brought back her initial producing team: John Carroll Kirby, John Keys, Standing on the Corner, and Sampha to add their ingredients, but it was not enough. Additionally, Solange collaborated with Pharrell Williams, Panda Bear, Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and many more to help sculpt this mosaic artwork.
In the beginning of the album, the song “Things I Imagined” is an enchanting landscape of pop sounds and harmonies. Using slow transient effects and reverberation to create a soothing lullaby, she lets the listener peak into her mind as she continuously says, “I saw things I imagined.” The repetition of lyrics and melodies foreshadow the subtle motif that appears throughout the album. With lyrics acting as a stream of consciousness, the words begin to indirectly illustrate the streets of Houston.
Solange places you in the middle of city. In the song “Way to the Show,” she draws you right into the Houston scene as she references “candy paint,” which refer to the décor of flashy lifestyle. The electrifying Herbie Hancock-style synthesizer and the dramatic drumbeat creates a cinematic foundation for her tantalizing voice. Kirby and Key make it known that the retro neo soul infused funk jam is inside the bright bass synth. They add color to her vision and blend the mid 80s and early 2000s pop genre to bring a fresh sound. Keeping it real and paying homage to her upbringing, this is the old Solange staying relevant in the new era.
This seminal album becomes a cornerstone between sensuality and strength, the attributes that participate within the musical nodes that demonstrate how Solange has evolved. She keeps you interested without losing the focus of her objective. The mark of a real artist- a person that can tell you a story without compromising the truth. Also, the sophisticated development of sound implies that musicianship is just as important as the message. By carefully fusing pop, jazz, and R&B, she remains genuine while capturing the attention of the mainstream. Therefore, her seductive realism is not only visceral, but raw. She comes back home and tells us exactly who she is and where she comes from.